Friday, 16 October 2015

I Hate... / When people don't do the basics of their very basic jobs

1) When an employer owes you wages and they tell you they don't have any money left. And yet their Instagram shows them at hair salons and spas mid-day during the week, taking trips to Europe and generally showing off the fact that, yes, they do have the money but they are just flagrantly refusing to pay what they owe... 

2) When an "editor" fails to perform straightforward requirements of their job title because their definition of "busy" is going to fashion parties and shopping whilst you're studying the structure of the English legal system and EU law...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

PRINTED WORDS / Iconic Issue #20

The latest issue of Iconic magazine is a big one; the biggest in the mag's HIStory, in fact.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Michael Jackson's HIStory album this edition celebrates all things HIStorical - I mean, just the cover features a never-before-seen option for the album's artwork. I mean - come on! - that's rather amazing.

The inside pages are equally great; lots of interviews with Jackson's collaborators, a book extract from the excellent Joe Vogel and general ruminations on this highly significant album. 

Oh, and I've written about other artists sampling Michael Jackson - which is interesting, obviously. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Thursday, 1 October 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / I'm trying to change my life

So I'm trying to alter the course of my life - LOL - by doing a Graduate Diploma in Law. 

You may read about my decision to do so HERE

Whilst I love being a music journalist, I cannot wait to achieve my career goal of becoming Will Truman. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Last week my family's six month old Shih Tzu puppy, Cookie, was attacked by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier that was NOT on a leash.

The dog's owners did nothing to prevent or stop the attack.

After five nights in hospital, constant pain relief in the form of morphine and methadone, and surgery to remove one of his eyes, Cookie is now back home where he belongs.

Please read this full report from the Swindon Advertiser for more details as I am finding it very hard to keep re-telling this story and I want to move on from this utterly harrowing experience for Cookie and everyone who loves him (which is A LOT of people). 

Cookie is the most wonderful and beautiful dog anyone could ever wish for. He has totally changed mine and my whole family's lives for the better. 

We have done as much as we can to make others aware of the culprits and it is now in the hands of the general public to come forward and identify the callous perpetrators who do not deserve to own an animal of their own. 

If you know them, live near them, see them around your street or Coate Water, PLEASE CALL 101 and report them. 

They have a dog capable of causing serious harm and no control over it. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Morrissey Live Review

Find the original post HERE

“This is my life,” are the words Morrissey welcomes the crowd with. And what a life it is at the moment: playing a large number of songs taken from an album that was pulled after just three weeks due to various disagreements with Harvest records and has seen him without a record contract ever since. After the runaway success of his ‘Autobiography’ he is days away from releasing his debut novel, ‘List of the Lost’, something he doesn’t even mention this evening. With no outlet for new music in the UK on the horizon, Morrissey has stated that this two-night booking in Hammersmith is “likely” to be his “final ever UK shows”.

The fact that Morrissey refuses to acknowledge the terminal state of album sales and the lucrative lifeline touring has been to the music industry – and can continue to be to him, since no artist has fans as dedicated as he – seems rather misguided but he still gives good showing in that other money-spinning outlet: the merchandise table. “Be kind to animals or I’ll kill you” t-shirts fly off the shelf next to the PETA stands that are part of Morrissey’s touring crew. 

Despite the changes to the wider music world, Morrissey’s realm remains reassuringly the same. His first steps on stage are prefaced by a delightfully eclectic variety of video footage, ranging from Anne Sexton reading a poem titled ‘Wanting to Die’ to Bob and Marcia performing ‘Young, Gifted and Black’. His band remain impressively firm and versatile and in matching outfits. And, as ever, his audience is made up entirely by people of the most strikingly devoted order. Morrissey’s stage demeanour remains stately and commanding, his intrinsic majesty transfusing into everyone present who physically cannot sing one of his lyrics without grandly stretching out a single arm with an open, skyward facing palm that offers the sentiment to the world.

Morrissey’s song choices tonight are, on the whole, challenging. Perhaps finally sick and tired of the fact that every time he expresses an opinion, headlines of supposed of controversy are created (one does wish that every artist or public figure that is too afraid to form opinions and express them should be handed their P45 – it certainly would thin the herd), tonight he commits to many of the feather-ruffling numbers in his arsenal; ‘Staircase at the University’ (sample lyric: “She threw herself down and her head split three ways”) , ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’, ‘Istanbul’, ‘The World is Full of Crashing Bores’, ‘The Bullfighter Dies’, ‘Oboe Concerto’ and a powerfully punctuated ‘I Will See You In Far Off Places’ all strongly bristle.

In-between song quips are as much a part of any Morrissey show as the music, and he does not disappoint. He urges the crowd not to vote and “support the process”. In reference to the current government he asks if anyone is happy with the arrangement. A resounding “No” follows. “That’s the United Kingdom,” he shrugs. On Labour’s new leader: “I hope Jeremy Corbyn does not does not – does not – go to Buckingham Palace and kneel before the Third Reich.” And when there is a complete power cut after he plays a cover of Elvis Presley’s “You’ll Be Gone”: “It’s a conspiracy! It’s Buckingham Palace! They’re gonna get me. And I’m not kidding!”

Humour aside, tonight’s show had two tormenting centre pieces. The first, whilst he plays ‘Ganglord’, footage of American police brutality is projected high above the band: (mostly) black men, women, peaceful protestors, the disabled, animals and acquiescent civilians all savagely beaten and tortured. It’s paralysing. “American Taliban” is Morrissey’s closing comment. Later comes ‘Meat Is Murder’ with unapologetically graphic films of animal slaughter across the world. The stage is dimly lit a scarlet red so that Morrisey’s repeated cries of “eat” and “kill” act as ominous narration. Opposition to organised and state-sanctioned cruelty should not be seen as some quirk of Morrissey’s, it should be a shared belief that one is ashamed not to possess.

The only healing salve of the evening comes in the form of the Morrissey’s 1988 debut solo single ‘Suedehead’; still so gently enchanting. The recent ‘Kiss Me A Lot’ too provided a moment of light, romantic release. But the eternally mesmerising ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ is the most uniting and crowning moment of the night. Yes, a sold-out hall all willing on the dropping of a nuclear bomb is a strangely beautiful thing. Seeing Morrissey live can vary from the harrowing to the sublime, but, hey, isn’t that all our lives?

All this housed inside a venue where a new restaurant called Meat Yard prepares to open next door. And a world where the next morning the UK will be greeted by the front-page news that it’s prime minister once placed his genitals inside the mouth of a dead pig. Morrissey – we need you still. 

Written for FMS

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Thursday, 10 September 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / We’ll Meet Again: The Libertines Reformation Assessed

Find the original post HERE

So this is it. This is what happens when wishes are granted. For fans of The Libertines, the release of a third album, Anthems For Doomed Youth, on September 11th seems like the impossible dream come true. More than eleven years after their second and seemingly final LP, and a whimper of a last live gig under the Libertine name in the form of a support slot at an unremarkable Paris venue, here we are again. It was an underwhelming conclusion to what had been an intensive and iconic chapter in the history of British rock.
So much had happened and all so quickly: the alchemic chemistry between co-front men Carl Barât and Pete Doherty; the poetic ideology; the romantic vision; the too-good-to-be-true interviews; the NME’s die-hard dedication to documenting every high and low; the near-misses; 112a Teesdale Street; the guerrilla gigs; the homoerotic tension; the matching tattoos; the betrayal; the reconciliation. And on top of all this, timeless songs that possessed energy so raw, so honest, and acted as totem examples of rock ‘n’ roll’s non-discriminatory policy of not having to technically be the best to actually be the best.
Yet the glory and triumphs were matched only by the depravity and disappointments. So acute was the fallout from the end of The Libertines and their Arcadian dream that the resultant resentment made the notion of the band ever getting back together, let alone touring and recording new music, too much to hope for.
“It’s either top of the world or bottom of the canal,” is the pledge Carl Barât put to his partner in crime, Pete Doherty. And each of them have experienced them both, the latter with too many court appearances and drug charges to his name to recount, and the former with a play alongside Sadie Frost and an opera with Marc Almond on his post-Libertine CV. But, once again, it’s the lows that make the Libertines’ current high – in the form of a major record deal and extensive touring schedule – all the more extraordinary.
Even after a brief reunion that saw them play one slot below the headliners, Arcade Fire, at Reading and Leeds in 2010, this current Libertine renaissance has been far from a sure thing. Doherty admitted at the time that he agreed to play with his old band because of the generous fee. A documentary, ‘There Are No Innocent Bystanders’, about the lead up to the shows revealed the wounds of their past to still be very much open, if not infected. When Pete failed to attend the film’s premiere, a rightly spurned Carl turned to the NME to vent his latest frustrations and doubts about The Libertines having a future whatsoever.
Barât’s lone solo album followed (Pete’s only solo record was released the year before), as well as his admirably honest autobiography,Threepenny Memoir. Doherty made his acting debut in the critically panned Confession of a Child of the Century, during which time he became romantically involved with his co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg, whom subsequently fled back to France just four days after absconding to the UK with Pete and discovering the full extent of his profligate lifestyle. A third album with the ramshackle Babyshambles came and went in 2013. And so brief was the lifespan of Carl Barât and The Jackals – a band consisting of what one suspects were Libertines fans who couldn’t believe their luck – that they were seemingly dismissed as quickly as they were assembled (so swiftly, in fact, they are still yet to have an entry added to Barât’s Wikipedia page).
And yet, come July 2014 The Libertines were playing to the biggest audience of their career at London’s Hyde Park. The gig itself was atrocious; marred by the constant need to stop the music whilst mass crowd surges were dealt with by inept security, a sense of stressful tension amongst the band and a general feel of dangerous unease in the audience. A few months later, three sold-out nights at Alexandra Palace confirmed they were a band able to deliver under the right circumstances and drew in new fans with no nostalgic attachment but who’d discovered their legend retrospectively.
By October, Pete Doherty had checked into a rehab facility in Thailand and was joined by his band mates during his successful treatment, where they all signed a contract with Virgin EMI and began work on the album that would become Anthems For Doomed Youth.
So what of the new album? “Long-awaited” is an overused phrase, yet it’s both simultaneously apt and understating the fact in this particular case. The marked difference, sonically, is the relative polish of the production finish. Although Anthems’ producer, Jake Gosling, didn’t have to do much to outstrip Mick Jones’ previous method, which seemingly was to put a microphone in the same room as The Libs and let the tape roll. The context from which this new material is emanating is, of course, the variant that really matters. Rather than the squat of well-read, would-be rent boys, or the fraying edges of a competitive creative partnership, Anthems’ is coming from a place of healing, renewed friendship and the temerity of building upon a legacy.
Admirably, The Libertines pull it off. Their lyrical tropes and vocabulary remain intact; it’s all veins, prison gates, the streets of London, death, glory, setting suns, bleeding hearts, boozers, doom and fate. And whilst they still communicate through guitar play that varies between jaunty strums, jolting squalls and absent-minded noodling, the energy behind it all is not the same as that of Up The Bracket orThe Libertines, because, well, it can’t be. Time has passed. Life has changed. Only a fool would expect the intentions behind this album to be the same as its predecessors.
Saying that, there are still chaotic flourishes to be found, most notably during the closing moments of lead single ‘Gunga Din’, the wind-up pace of ‘Heart Of The Matter’, Carl’s spitting vocal delivery on ‘Fury Of Chonburi’ and the ripping chords of ‘Glasgow Coma Scale Blues’. On the other hand, ‘Fame And Fortune’ and the re-recorded ‘You’re My Waterloo’ feel like a hat tip to the band’s patriotic penchant for old British music hall. The album’s title track and centre piece, meanwhile, heavily invokes the emotional tenderness of the likes of ‘What Katie Did’ and ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’. ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ also contains one of the band’s finest lyrical sign offs that encapsulates their starry-eyed nihilism: “We’re going nowhere/But… nowhere seems to be on our way.”
All in all, The Libertines have done a good job. Confirmation of the worth of this new material was truly evident at Bristol Academy – one of five small club shows the band announced last minute to celebrate the release of the new album – when a voracious crowd were just as joyed to hear ‘Gunga Din’ as they were the beloved songs of old.
Yes, The Libertines have played a hell of a lot of festival shows this year, including a surprise set on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and three in three days during their Reading and Leeds headline slots over the August bank holiday weekend (they took a jet over to France to sandwich in another for Rock en Seine). And, honestly, their fatigue was evident by the time they reached Berkshire. The setting was far too exposing of their limitations and a thinning crowd didn’t help matters either. The missed guitar solo during ‘Time For Heroes’ and an unmissable eye roll from drummer/conductor Gary Powell summed up the set rather succinctly.
But on stage in Bristol, it was a different story. Hilariously, after 45 minutes’ worth of five (yes, five) roadies taking their sweet time over setting up, and one even dedicating his time to pacing the stage checking for any hidden hazards, Pete Doherty saunters on (clad in elasticated, drawstring jogging bottoms, we hasten to add!), and lightly trips over a guitar cable. Not that he cares or is phased… Thanks, roadies!
A 22 song set of glory ensued. The atmosphere was electric. The boys in the band played furiously. Gary was the backbone around which the chaos could flail. Doherty enthusiastically insisted on making the band play an under-rehearsed and cack-handed rendition of new song ‘Iceman’. The commotion felt closed in and gratifyingly abrasive. ‘What A Waster’, ‘Up The Bracket’ and ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ make for a riotous encore. It was like the good old days. A true joy to behold. This is the setting in which The Libertines’ unique vigour can truly be absorbed.
So, where do we go from here? Based on pre-orders alone, Anthems For Doomed Youth is probably destined for a high chart position. The Libertines have a few more live dates to fulfil. Their interviews have been living up to their track record for talking frankly and in delightful pull-quotes. Really, this is all just a rather delayed return to service. It will take some doing, but perhaps The Libertines can inspire fans enough to adore them beyond their romanticised past. But, for now, as they sing on ‘The Iceman’, “Just for now, we have all the time.”
Written for FMS

Sunday, 6 September 2015

This is quite wonderful.

Friday, 4 September 2015