Saturday, 3 December 2011

PODCAST: Paul Du Noyer on the lost art of the album sleeve

AWARD winning Merseyside author Paul Du Noyer recently gave a talk titled 'Art on its Sleeve: Why Music is Good but Cardboard is Beautiful' at the V&A museum in London about the history and development of sleeve art on records.
As I couldn't be there, I asked him to recap the main points over coffee and muffins in FACT in Liverpool.
It wasn't the best environment to record a podcast, so listen out for the sound of heavy rock instrumental on the PA, a volatile coffee machine and a man offering us sweets from a vast silver bowl.

Some of examples of the covers Paul discussed today.

DuNoyer Podcast Layout 1

New designs for a student magazine

I'm mucking about with simple designs for a new magazine my students are going to edit at university.
So, I'm sticking up some designs to get some feedback and critique. Tell me what you think.
There is a problem with a missing font on the headers (top left/ top right) but other than that, I'm keeping it simple for new and inexperienced designers.

Immediate DPS 2

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The End: A classic fanzine reborn

I posted an interview with Peter Hooton on the classic Liverpool fanzine over on my other blog. Have a read of it here. Thanks to him for his time.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Proof that newspapers should never pose a question if the answer may be inconvenient

Mail splash this morning:

Mail online poll this morning (later spiked)

Thanks to  for finding and posting the online poll on Twitter.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Daily Mail links women's movement to autism and then prints pictures of glamour model to show hard far it has to travel

The Daily Mail finally lapped itself in the crazy race today.
No 1: It linked growing autism rates to the rise in prominence for women in the work place and successful parents.
No 2: It then went on only four pars in to describe the belief that it was down to MMR, a story it had been the lead cheerleader for, for many years as a 'rather bizarre hypothesis'.
No 3: It, however, added the coupe de grace, which shows just how far the women's movement really has to go to achieve its goals, by publishing pictures of glamour model Imogen Thomas (famed for sleeping with a footballer) posing in duct tape to protest at a 'gag on her telling her story. It was irony, but only on a base level that a moron may consider advanced.
As I said, it lapped itself in the crazy race, but only as Jonathan Swift furiously spun in his grave at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A billion people are starving while the western media eats itself

The restaurant critics of the Independent and the Daily Telegraph are spied on by a Michelin star chef while eating at his restaurant. He tweets about it. The critics react to it. One writes a comment piece in reply.
We are, as the great man said, a virus with shoes

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rugby pundits maul football's yes men

BBC Radio 5Live tonight the massive gap in quality between football's former pro yes men and their rugby union counterparts.
While Steve Claridge, Perry Groves, Pat Nevin, Mark Lawrenson et al have landed cushy media gigs specialising in saying not much more than the bleedin' obvious, the ever combative former England prop, Brian Moore (left) flew the flag for no-nonsense-say-it-as-it-is-and-damn-the-consequences punditry.
He's an intelligent man who in commentary can disappear up his own ass with self importance, but when it comes to calling it as it is and perhaps alienating sacred cows or former colleagues, he's fearless.
Tonight was magnificent. He laid the failings of England at the world cup bare: 'They were truculent from the start and they had no friends,' 'Martin Johnson was never comfortable dealing with the media, but he's the England manager, that's his job,' 'Martin Johnson wasn't tactically experienced enough or qualified for being head coach.'
The best moment came when it was noted that Nick Mallett, the outgoing Italy coach had decided to turn down England to go back to South Africa to spend time with his family. Moore added: "And in parenthesis: I wouldn't deal with that shower."
Apart from anything else, when was the last time you heard Steve Claridge or Jason Roberts use the word parenthesis?
Unlike the picture illustrating this post, Moore's never toothless in his punditry and remains a cut above.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Woody Allen and the canon of Irish literature

Woody Allen's brilliant mickey take of the Irish Literary world of Joyce and Yeats from the story 'The Irish Genius' from Without Feathers or Complete Prose.
There's a hooky version here. But please, do yourself a favour, go out an buy them

And an oblique reference to Séan Ó'Faoláin?

Friday, 11 November 2011

A brilliant summary of the press in the Irish presidential election

From the might Fergal Crehan. As you can see @Fergal on Twitter

Update on the pointlessness of most internet debate

One of the greatest political philosophers of our times writes about the crisis in the EU Zone, and every eejit with an opinion feels like they are qualified to have their say.
The lesson about internet commenting could not be more stark.
A couple of issues arise again:
Communicative rationality: or, if you know Sweet FA, should you be allowed to interact?
Discourse ethics: or, if you know Sweet FA, should you be allowed to interact?
You know what, I think we all need to STFU.
*elementary post modernist klaxon*

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The pointlessness of most political debate on internet forums

I started to reply to a thread on Scottish nationalism on the Word Magazine blog tonight, I reacted to several posts by one contributor.
I spent 20 minutes writing the reply and then, having brushed my teeth, realised it's utterly pointless. I deleted it, because the idea of any kind of deep political discussion, much less change, happening thanks to discussions on the blog of a music magazine is either: a) misguided, b) ridiculously utopian, or, c) evidence of the rampant egotism of all of us in this age of free information exchange.
The fact I am posting the deleted entry here is testament to both this age of ego and the power of my own. I hope no-one reads this. Apart from the last couple of lines.
It's disingenuous to suggest that a coalition of political identities emerge solely as a matter of political expediency and a need to appeal to a support base. Rather they come can also from deep seated associations born of cultural and emotive identification.
The lefty-ish tinge to some Scots nationalism is not modern but tied to the cultural implications of separatist movements that emerge in the post-Enlightenment period. This leftist separatism is now 200-odd years old.
DCU's John Doyle wrote a great chapter for a book in 2008 which outlined the cultural and political reasons behind Irish nationalist and republican support for the Palestinian cause and reflects the degrees of support for it among all the nationalist parties in Ireland. They do so through certain cultural and emotional attachments to dispossessed nations and people.
It is, within the parameters of modern history, to see nationalism place itself naturally within leftism. Whether they tag on Cuba or other causes to legitimate them, in some way. Sub-altern nationalisms can become fascistic, but invariably start at a position of being culturally dominated.
My point is that, yes, there are a range of right-on left wing causes which naturally coalesce and which form a canon of current political catechism, but they emerge organically and not simply from self-interested politicians.
The left wing cause of identifying with those in... Oh Jesus... I'm never getting these 20 minutes back again, am I? Joe Strummer died at 50, I'm 12 years away from that. Time to stop wasting time in forums.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Evgeny Morozov nails the laughable public internet intellectuals

Evgeny Morozov nails the cult of the Internet Intellectuals in this review of Jeff Jarvis' new book for the New Republic.
The failure of Internet intellectuals actually to grapple with the [intervening] centuries of momentous technological, social, and cultural development is glaring. For all their grandiosity about technology as the key to all of life’s riddles, they cannot see further than their iPads. And even their iPad is of interest to them only as a “platform”—another buzzword of the incurious—and not as an artifact that is assembled in dubious conditions somewhere in East Asian workshops so as to produce cultic devotion in its more fortunate owners. This lack of elementary intellectual curiosity is the defining feature of the Internet intellectual.
History , after all, is about details, but no Internet intellectual wants to be accused of thinking small. And so they think big—sloppily, ignorantly, pretentiously, and without the slightest appreciation of the difference between critical thought and market propaganda.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Monk and Coltrane and the Beat Poet generation

PART Two of the GM podcast sees Tom Rafferty of the Primevals and the Beat Poets wax highly lyrically on the genius of John and Alice Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and what attracts him to the more difficult end of the jazz canon.
EDIT: (To download, click 'share' and then 'link to mp3' download then from
John Coltrane - 'Giants Steps' from Giant Steps
The Beat Poets - 'Exterminator'
Brilliant Corners - 'Blue Monk'

The intro and outro music for the podcast is Lloyd Cole's 'Backwoods (reprise)' available here on download at Amazon. But, fill your boots and shop at Lloyd's online shop, it's full of top quality lovelies from across the decades. You'll find Backwoods on the album etc.

The great American storyteller: James Lee Burke on the misuse of power and the dishonour of Bush

Oh that all of our writers would have this depth of humanity and intellect. He should be our moral barometer.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Podcast: Primevals & Beat Poets guitarist Tom Rafferty on Hendrix, Otis Redding and The Saints

PRIMEVALS and Beat Poets guitarist Tom Rafferty has long played and championed music that comes from anywhere but the mainstream.
Pebbles and Nuggets 60s Californian garage punk was one of the starting points for the Primevals, (a long time prior to their mid-90s re-issue inspired renaissance), while all forms of bebop, big band and classic jazz have inspired the man throughout his musical career. Alice Coltrane sits beside Dick Dale in hugely catholic range of influences.
In this, Part 1 of a two-part podcast, Tom talks about his formative musical influences and learning to play along to Hendrix, Otis Redding and Aussie punks The Saints in his bedroom in Mount Florida in Glasgow.
EDIT: (To download, click 'share' and then 'link to mp3' download then from

Jimi Hendrix Experience - 'Killing Floor', from Live at Monterey
Otis Redding - 'Respect', from Live in Europe. EDIT: Note that this is the Live in Europe version. Although played, in parts, quite quickly, Tom, quite rightly pointed out, it is considerably slower than the Monterey version - which I don't have!
The Saints - 'I'm Stranded', from All Times Through Paradise (4 CD box set for £8.99 on download!)

Bonus Track:
Alex Chilton & His Beat Poets - 'Respect', from Live on Glasgow Green

Edit: The intro and outro music for the podcast is Lloyd Cole's 'Backwoods (reprise)' available here on download at Amazon. But, fill your boots and shop at Lloyd's online shop, it's full of top quality lovelies from across the decades. You'll find Backwoods on the album etc.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Running, the FPR, enjoying the Catholic persecution complex and great songs to jog to

In training for the Liverpool Half Marathon, I had First Proper Run (FPR) last night.
People who have run, given up, drifted away and started up etc will recognise the FPR.
The FPR is the one that heralds a campaign and it has to be accompanied by a range of acoutréments. Mine was no different.
Like all modern eejits with too much time on their hands and a range of pointless technology at their disposal, I had everything racked up to the max: heart rate monitor measuring fat man strain and GPS monitoring speed, elevation climbed and every footfall and deviation.
And then I exploded out for a 32 minute 5K - take that Mo Farah. (Mo is more than twice as fast).
I suppose in past times I'd have been disheartened with it having run so much quicker in the past, and I would invariably not have run again. But this is the FPR.
Not this time. I remember reading about how Greg Lemond would lean into the pain and hurt when going into the red on his bike. I'm looking at doing the same but at a much, much humbler a level of achievement.
This time I'm going to enjoy the pain as I build up and get faster and ignore the guilt associated with not doing enough training in the past - there's nothing I can do about that, now. I call it enjoying the Catholic persecution complex.
Anyway, these posts will be about running and music and raising money for MS charities. You need good music if you are to survive the FPR and the week of 'getting back into it.'
First up, an oldie. Incredibly The Stunning's Brewing Up a Storm is 20 years old. Which means I am 20 years older. But as Hugh Dennis used to say on the Mary Whitehouse Experience: "It's got a good beat."

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Shack: Britain's greatest ever unheralded band

I have tried to change CDs in the car in recent months, but can't. And as a result I now realise Shack are the greatest band. Ever. That's it.
So there.
And this is their best song. This will, however, wind up the purists, who will prattle on about 'Waterpistol' and 'Here's Tom' etc. To them, I'm sorry. (I'm not.)
Ultimately, me and purists know that Mick and John are the greatest unheralded songwriters Britain has ever produced.
And HMS Fable is boss because it is one of the few records I bought from more than 10 years ago that I still play the arse out of.
I think it is perfect. Literally perfect.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bob Geldof's tribute to Gary Moore

Gary Moore was one of a triumvirate of great Irish bluesmen, including Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher. Alas, after his recent death, we are left with only the first now. Here is in his pomp playing with BB King and listen to the touching and intelligent tribute from Bob Geldof on BBC Radio 5Live's breakfast show last Monday.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Raymond Chandler on Radio 4

A new series of, and on, Chandler is airing this week on Radio 4.
Read more about it here at the Radio 4 website.
But more importantly, please listen to Ian Fleming speaking to a clearly refreshed Chandler for the BBC on the above link. It is apparently the only recorded example of Chandler speaking about his work. The old boys do blow smoke up one another's fundaments, but that ain't no thing, just getting them together is good enough for me.
I love Chandler's writing and the fact that it transfers so beautifully to radio, surely, in no small part down to the compelling nature of Marlowe's character.
(BTW: Picture courtesy of the Daily Telegraph)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The threat to Britain's libraries and public service

There is essentially a deep ideological battle about Britain's public services and its funding of key cultural and educational institutions.

The Tories want to hack them away from the state and make them profitable or place them in the voluntary sector. To complete this they are disingenuously using the idea of community or society, which we all believe are attractive and important forces for social cohesion, and to cloak the overall vision of monetising them, to use that horrible internet word.

The Tories love the idea of the third sector (see the satire on 'The Fourth Sector' in The Thick of It) as it reduces the cost to the public purse.

For example, the Tories want to shut libraries and schools and other public services and push the dogma of volunteerism - if you love it so much do it yourself. Why? It cuts capital and labour costs.

What replaces it? Well, there is a vast industry involved in bidding for grants, largely governed and administrated by powerful and well connected private sector companies - but still currently in partnership with the public sector.

Take away the public sector and you have a wonderfully fluid and profitable sector of public life run by private sector companies.

What results in education, the health service or education? Well organised special interest groups, usually private companies, delivering services where they are profitable.

Look at employment services - Reed et al. Clinton-style reform of the public services rendered in public private enterprise form, but delivered for profit with the reform of welfare and its savings at its core.

That's a specific example to the labour sector, but it is one that will be rolled out across all of Britain's public sector.

The sad thing is that many senior Tories have convinced themselves into buying into the idea of the Big Society as a post New Labour sincere embracing of reform of public services as an empowering force. In actual fact, it's just a delusional post modern New Labour-style Orwellian linguistic exercise that assuages themselves of the guilt of actually being Thatcherite.

Or, if you are more cynical, they are just pissing on your head and telling you it is raining.

Leave it to Fr Ted:

Father Ted: What was it he used to say about the needy? He had a term for them...
Father Dougal McGuire: A shower of bastards.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Seven Ages of Man/Woman in Popular Music: Part 3 The Lover

And so, after childhood, Shakespeare's melancholic Jacques turns his attention to adulthood and the long slow slide to death and that moment in which Beckett's Pozzo says, 'the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.'
The third age of man and wochap sees us as the heartbroken lover,

And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.

What are the great songs of the love lorn? For me there is no contest, the Mighty Smokey with help from his Miracles.

Reactions from The Word massive here

Seven Ages of Man in Pop: Part 2 Teenage Years

SO, in a bid to win the 'Statin' the bleedin' obvious, innit?' award for this millennium, I'm going to stick my neck out (and steal the work of countless esteemed writers and thinkers) and say that popular music's history is inextricably tied-up with the emergence of teenagers as an economic group in society.
Even 60 years or so after this emerged, pure pop is still primarily obsessed with the first flushes of love, moving towards adulthood and getting yer end away for the first time.
Now, there are many thousands of artists who have written about being a teenager - Teenager in Love, Teenage Kicks, Teenage Riot and the really quite creepy Sweet Little Sixteen, we could go on ad nauseum.
The 'Orrible Who not only made a career out of writing about teenagers, but Townshend could be considered as someone who has helped form our entire concept of being a teenager in post war Britain given his centrality to the Mod and rock movements.
But, if one song captures the first flush of teenage sexuality and the awkwardness of that age, then the mighty Fountains of Wayne nail it with this wonderful song.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Seven Ages of Man/Woman in Popular Music: Part 1 Childhood

Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle came up on the randomiser today and it struck me as one of the greatest songs about growing up. By some circuitous route it got me thinking about Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It.
So what are the best songs about the seven ages of man or woman?
Today is childhood.
I'm kicking off with the aforementioned Mr Chapin's beautiful paean to childhood/ adolescence and fatherhood.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The New Economy of Comedy - Liverpool Confidential

A piece about Arena comedy and how the whole industry is experiencing its greatest ever boom in Britain's worst recession for 20 years.