Thanks everybody for making my birthday so cool – cards, video messages, video calls, phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Email, prezzies, In Deep donations and especially thanks for the hot air balloon that floated over the archive and carefully winched down all those rare records. It’s pretty hard to reply and thank everyone individually so just know how much I appreciate all your comments, greetings and love. (Did you see Olivia’s drawing?) And by the way if you didn’t know, I was 62 today and how on Earth did that happen?
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much chance to break out of here soon enough to play any shows this year, but with albums in the can, albums almost completed and other projects in the planning stage we hope we can project into the future. As soon as we know what’s happening with the lockdown we will be in touch with our great new agent Joady and discuss with her how we can move forward. I’ve already talked to Stephen at Schoolkids Records about release dates, especially for MOAT and Poison Stream, but we wait, like everyone else we just wait until we see a window. Let’s just hope that people stop dying – of anything. Then let’s settle on other planets.
It was a lovely day today, 16 degrees, a nice breeze, warm sun on your back and encouragingly more people around than I’ve seen in a long time. It’s as if people know something is going to change, even with the continuing struggle it seems there is some guarded optimism, over here in England at least. One of the worst things about this is the simple fear. Different people have a different reaction to different things and this is no exception. You can’t really judge them if they react differently to you, you have to be sympathetic, like you would be for a frightened child. It doesn’t matter if it’s just the shadows created by the trees through the window or if a real threat exists, you need to have empathy, because there is one real truth through all this – nobody knows what is true and what isn’t true anymore. Perhaps I am naive but I’m pretty sure we had a better angle on the truth in the past, or was it that we believed more easily? I feel like lying is easier these days than it was, as if it’s a matter of course. What I don’t understand is after the lies are found out, they are just accepted, just move on, of course they lied. I hate liars.
The sea was a dark sparkling green, we were willing the seals to come out and sunbathe above the waves. Sometimes they do and they linger, other times it’s a brief glimpse and then they disappear beneath the surface and no matter how long you wait they don’t return. After we’d been to recycle and contemplate the ocean we walked across the road to the supermarket and stood in a queue to get in. It wasn’t that long, five minutes and we were through the door. The shelves now seem to be well-stocked, the rush on toilet paper seems to be over, there’s spaghetti and cereal, honey, tissues, eggs, although I’m still not seeing any hand sanitizer. What did these people do with their bulk buys? Do they live in mansions or are all these extra goods cluttering up the kitchen floor?
I’ve caught the sun on my face the last couple of days, yesterday in Dare’s garden, today just being out. At Dare’s house the bees are buzzing around the purple flowers (their name escapes me). That explosion of life that starts in the spring and continues into summer is invigorating. Morrab Gardens was beautiful today with its exotic plants and trees (see the pic). What a thrill it is living on this beautiful planet. So much to experience, so much to see, so much to know. Dare dropped by with a prezzie, Black’s last album, Blind Faith (2015), you may know him from his song Wonderful Life. Dare tells me this is his best album. Black was his stage name, his real name was Colin Vearncombe, we both met him separately over the years. He was tragically killed in a car accident in 2016 on the way to Cork airport, leaving behind his Swedish wife and three children. There’s a very moving article written by her about the tragedy.
We planned birthday movies and intended to watch the extended version of Lord Of The Rings but got to the end of the first DVD to discover it was the normal version. Ah well I guess it’s an excuse to watch it again. I didn’t remember that much from when I first saw it all those years ago. The trouble with books and films and records is that they need multiple listens, re-reads and revisits. Life is definitely too short and one might reflect on that on one’s birthday. As it happened in the film it all started with Bilbo Baggins’ birthday, I think he was 111, but mostly because the evil ring has kept him alive. But then the Elves are immortal, aren’t they? This prompted me to ask Google if Elves are immortal. What a wonderful world of fantasy we can inhabit with our imaginations. I was glad to read that Elves are indeed immortal and can recover from wounds, but they can die from “grief or weariness”. So please try your best not to make your local Elf sad.
After watching Lord Of The Rings, music tonight is going be, you guessed it, Elf, featuring American singer Ronnie James Dio, who as you know found himself in Rainbow and Black Sabbath as he had something of a distinctive voice, for me best illustrated on the title track of The Butterfly Ball, put together by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover. But as far as this album, I’m not digging it, I need to hear that first album, you know the one with the great cover with the Elf that costs loads of money. It is in fact called And Before Elf…The Were Elves (1972). The second album Carolina County Ball (1974) is a little too straight ahead and basic, I need a twist or some magic working within the genre, I don’t hear it on this album. Sadly Dio died of stomach cancer aged 67 in 2010.
I followed Elf with a large jump somewhere else, another planet with Unicorn (1969), produced by Tony Visconti. It was the third album by Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took’s last album as part of the duo. It was a hippie-esque acoustic duo with Bolan’s distinctive vocal style and flowery lyrics with Peregrin Took’s percussion, bass and piano. It made it to No.12 on the UK Charts and features the great Cat Black The Wizard’s Hat with the out of time mad drums at the end. Hey it was the late sixties, everyone was stoned. I’m particularly liking the track Iscariot on Side 2.
Then there’s a children’s story uncredited as a song and read by the late John Peel, a must listen with that special voice of his. The much loved DJ died suddenly of a heart attack in Cusco in Peru. I was all the more saddened by his death because I have actually been to and stayed in that obscure town on the way to visiting Machu Picchu, I could see him there in the streets. I saw him for real once in a cafe in Crouch End, London, I should have said hello, he was a Liverpool supporter. (Olivia’s parents got me an LFC umbrella for my birthday.)
It was another death by car accident with Marc Bolan, losing his life at 29 in Barnes with his girlfriend Gloria Jones driving a mini and crashing into a tree, she survived, can you imagine, how do you recover from that? Steve Peregrin Took died by choking on a cocktail cherry. All these tragic deaths, what happened to dying in your sleep at 100? Birthdays and death, birthdays and death, that’s life.
Strider are long forgotten as a Blues Rock band with an insecure line up. They only made two albums, the second is called Misunderstood (1974) and featured Gary Grainger on guitar. He ended up in Rod Stewart’s band and with Stewart co-wrote Hot Legs and I Was Only Joking. He played sessions with many other seventies luminaries. Strider was of course the alias of Aragorn, heir of Isildur and the throne of Gondor.
Last but not least The Nazgul from Germany who have been called a hoax, a mystery and an experimental adventure. To find out more about them you may need to unravel the mystery with a trip to Cologne in a time machine. There’s a 12 inch single from 1999 which is allegedly the alleged seventies band that allegedly made the self-titled album from the mid seventies – allegedly. (I have the CD.) You need your special ears on for this one.
I suppose I could have played Bo Hansson’s Lord Of The Rings, but it just didn’t occur to me so Song Of The Day is that very album, why not?