Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

LBC FM Launches Almost Nationwide 1st September 2006 at 7am

The privilege appears to have fallen to the longest serving presenter on the station of almost 27 years Steve Allen. LBC has changed management a few times over its history but the name has been kept and Steve has been there through all of it.

He is well known in the London area and probably if the right format had been available nationwide I suspect he would've been known across the UK. Well, as long as people can get used to someone who speaks his mind, uses dry humour and people realise that a lot of what is said is tongue in cheek, he'll be ok. As long as new listeners can get used to the style that has made him as popular and legend in broadcasting for many who live in the capital.

But thanks to podcasting, online streaming, satellite broadcasting and now Digital Radio, he can be heard across the country. Finding a photograph of Steve is quite difficult but I managed to find one so for anyone wondering what he looks like see below...if you do a search it can get quite confusing as he shares his name with a wonderful American comedian/broadcaster who passed away some years ago and usually a search will mean that you'll find many web pages and images of that Steve Allen instead of the radio presenter.

Steve Allen has regular guests on his programme that are becoming as well known as himself but again finding pictures is difficult

Alan Dodgeon usually appears on the Tuesday programme and I think that there is some connection with the media from what is discussed.

John Warrington appears usually on Fridays and sometimes on the Sunday Programme(some may remember him appearing on Channel 5 as a Travel Consultant on Gloria Hunniford's Open House)He also has a connection with a gay Nightclub in London called Heaven.

Paul Savory often appears on Thursdays and on the Bank Holidays if Steve is sitting in for another presenter. Not really sure what Paul's profession is but he does spend much his time travelling the world especially around the Orient.

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And here all three together as the three wise...Radio Presenters...Dodgeon, Savory and Warrington.

AKA Marketing

Posted by Picasa Nathan Morley appears on Thursday and is a familiar figure both on radio and television in Cyprus.

Susan Spence does a regular update on the television soaps on the Friday programme but after a search on the net she appears to do much more including a regular programme on Capital Life

Posted by PicasaRoger Foss is the correspondent on theatre matters on Thursdays and is the editor of the publication Theatre Goer.

There are other regulars and just for fun and for listeners not able to find images or attend Steve's live shows in or around London I thought putting pictures here might allow you to put a face to the voice...

Posted by Picasa Some of the other presenters that are worth a listen on LBC include Carol McGiffin(of TV's Loose Women, sometimes a studio guest on late night BBC Radio 5 and one of the other incarnations of LBC and the original Talk Sport where she presented a show with Moz Dee and sometimes with Nick Abbot also once of Virgin, Real Radio, Talk Radio and Radio Luxembourg)Nick is back there doing a weekly show. Some his best shows can be found for download on the net if you look around.

And the other four presenters that I would single out as worth hearing if you are able would be Marcus Churchill, Bill Buckley(Remember TV's That's Life)Anna Raeburn(ex Talk Radio and Capital) and Peter Deeley occasionally(ex Talk Radio)

LBC does seem more ready to take ex-presenters back.

Reading on another website(and I always take what I read with a pinch of salt)there is some news that suggests that my idea that LBC FM may drop some of the traffic and news bulletins may be coming true.

The FM service may discuss news and get a lot of the topics out of the news that's breaking or featured in the news but it depends very much on phone-ins, guests in the studio and so on(After all it has a sister station in the same building broadcasting on AM that is a rolling news service)

The FM service has tended to take at busy times news bulletins every 15 minutes, it appears that they are going to go back to doing these on the hour and half hour. And in time the traffic bulletins will have an opt out on occasions where someone living in say Manchester will get a traffic report that means something to people living in that area.

I still believe that in time that the regions, though they will take some programmes from their head quarters in London, will start to broadcast some local programmes using local presenters and input from their locality.

I actually will be pleased to see some of the news bullitens dropped as although its a speech station and I know the news is an important element and in an emergency I am all for normal programmes being dropped and news output increasing or being shared but LBC FM is as close as we can be to the original blue print of Talk Radio before it became Talk Sport and I think too many bullitens breaks up the flow of the station especially when you also have commercials as an important part of the station's sound.

Even BBC Radio 5 even though its news and sports based, even some of the ways some programmes are broken up and interupted, it spoils the flow and eveness of the station's sound.

I am sure that at certain times of the day the frequency of bullitens could be reduced.
This Is ILR

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Its Showtime!

My town held its annual show this weekend. Good luck to all those that attended and enjoyed it. I made an effort to visit it. It must be at least ten years since I last decided to attend.

Maybe, if I could've been bothered to go into the marquee areas and look inside I might've found something special perhaps some home made crafts and so on but honestly I am not sure how they managed to keep the crowds attending entertained. The few demonstrations that were taking place in the main area were so spaced out most of the time the place was unused. From what I did see the crowds were less than I remember them in past years and I cannot remember many even making an attempt to watch anything when it happened.

Those there seemed more interested in the many, many booths selling a variety of takeaway foods and drinks. And the area that was given over to lots of little fair ground rides for young children and one for the grown ups.

Somehow, I managed to stay for about three and a half hours but was ready to come home and I am afraid its unlikely that I will bother to attend any held in the future.

The most interesting demonstration but where it was held made it difficult to get a decent view was the fire and rescue department staging a mock rescue of a trapped motorist and watching them break the car windows and eventually using those big cutters to remove the top half of the car.

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I was hoping to see a demonstration of the Birds of Prey but again, they were so far away from anyone watching and the final demonstration that I would've watched it was delayed so long I had given up. I understand that after the previous earlier demonstration one of the birds had disappeared and the trainer was still trying to get it back...hence the delay.

The roads near the event had been closed off and therefore people that needed to use a taxi(like me)for dropping off had to get out at the local railway station and attempt to climb a bridge over the railway line and same coming back. As taxi's are only dropping off or collecting , it does seem strange to make what is a form of public transport and mainly used by the disabled, senior citizen's etc...so difficult to use.

And as there is the town golf course in that area many people were using the same route to get to the course. And with all the heavy bags containing golf clubs etc...I can assure you that many children/teenager and adults were risking their lives and avoiding using the bridge and walking across the line.

The only good thing about this line is that as far as I am aware only one local service uses it, they are not the kind of trains that you'd see on a main route and in one direction the line is so straight and the speed that they travel you have a clear view and it takes ages for the train to reach the station but in the other direction, its a blind bend and as soon as it comes around the corner its straight into the platform and you would not stand a chance.

As for unforeseen accidents(we all have them)how strange is this...I managed a little bit of a snooze and woke in time(just)to hear Nick Abbot on LBC but have to come downstairs to set up the satellite system and recorder(for time shifting)and on the landing just before the stairs somehow my foot caught my walking cane and in less than a second...I was left holding only the handle, the cane fell apart and I hurt my middle toe on the right foot. In some ways its quite amusing me standing there with just the handle.

On further investigation somehow the elastic within the cane had snapped and though its repairable and I almost succeeded in in doing so the final part is impossible to get into to hook the elastic around so next week its out to buy a new cane. How lucky, I had an old one to fall back on(no pun intended)good job it did not happen when I was outside. And as for the two...I don't believe its broken, it might be strained but I suspect, its just badly bruised.

I cannot even say it was an accident waiting to happen or that I did something stupid to cause it...oh well...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Digital Radio continued...

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Well, Gildy has finally purchased a digital radio. My last blog entry on this is done as much as anything to help anyone out there in the UK or if similar changes are happening elsewhere to make the right choice.

For some reason where my house located even though nothing visibly appears to block the signals of television and radio I have always required an external aerial for television and at least an aerial in the loft otherwise stereo FM radio is impossible. So for years now I have listened to much of anything I want in high quality sound via Sky's satellite platform.

So I entered digital radio from a previous experience of using a gadget that was hailed as a great item from Psion called a wave finder which you connected directly to a computer. But the signal was poor and it really required an external aerial and then I think I am correct in saying that the product was discontinued(please correct me if I am wrong)and once the newer Windows operating system came out, it could not be used with XP.

Another item destined for the bin(thank heavens I managed to get it at half price)but I think it was still something like £25-£30.

So I had every intention to purchase a reasonably good DAB radio on the net(I heard that the more you spend it really does make a difference)but as LBC is starting on September 1st I looked in a national retail outlet and came out with one manufactured by one of the best known companies for quality and reputation, I thought it looked quite stylish. I got it home and within 2 minutes didn't like it. The sound had too much base and no way of taking the effect off. It cost £70.

Now how do you know whether you like something if you cannot hear it? Yet though you can return items to the shop for refund or exchange...you must not use them! Using them to me is if you have them for ages and when you return them they are damaged. I had it in my possession for 60 minutes(only because I did some shopping elsewhere)and in the home for perhaps 8 minutes.

No way was I keeping it. Back to the shop and I took instead a radio approx £30 cheaper as you can see by the picture. Well, generally I cannot lie that FM is any better but most of the stations available on FM around here are on the same set using DAB. But it does offer FM/DAB. I have only lost BBC Radio Newcastle, Metro Radio and BBC Radio York which is a pity but as long as FM is not turned off for many years they should still be heard.

The sound is nicer on this Bush set, and in my bedroom at least I have found a spot where it offers me pretty well a full strength signal on every Digital station or the error is so slight it does not spoil the sound. And I do not have to keep moving it around for optimum sound. This radio also offers better connections than the previous more expensive model too and enables me to play it through the computer system so I can listen and record to hard drive. And that improves the sound too though even its own speakers are loud enough and in high enough quality.

Satellite radio's disadvantage probably is that you need a TV on to see what station you are listening to(and if you keep it on screen too long chances are the writing may burn into the screen)and that you are tied to the room that the TV is in unless you have it plugged into a hi-fi system or have some way of piping it around the home, that way you can change stations and leave the television picture switched off. An advantage of satellite delivered radio is good quality stereo sound on all stations and often all of them are on 24/7.

The latest list of satellite radio on Sky is around 100 stations.

Now on my digital set I can hear 39 stations of which all but 5 are on the satellite system so I have gained 5.

Further investigation has shown that the local stations offer the highest quality whether BBC or commercial, there are four companies supplying the transmitting technology(EMAP, MXR, Digital1 and BBC National DAB) between them though I am picking up all the stations I am supposed to...I can access alternative signals of two or three stations thanks to one of these companies from a neighbouring area Yorkshire plus an extra station meant specifically for Yorkshire so just maybe, a digital radio with an external aeriel if set up correctly might pull in a few other stations. I'd like to get BBC Radio York, BBC Newcastle and just maybe I may be able to pull in the local commercial stations from Tyneside and Yorkshire. So at some stage in the future I may invest in a more sophisticated radio that can be connected to an aerial.

So taking your location, transmitter power, frequencies becoming available and moving your radio around the home, using LBC as an example even some of you that officially should not be hearing it, may find the signal can be picked up from a neighbouring county.

Another thing is that some stations because they are trying to squeeze into the spectrum allocated to digital radio and because I suspect until sometime in the future power is not at the full capacity so some stations are broadcasting in a lower bit rate, some are in mono on the digital platform(usually those that are speech based)and though speech can manage on lower specifications and in mono, if you want to hear perhaps a drama being in mono is going mean that it will not sound as good.

And one station closes overnight but still carries on via satellite. So some capacity is being wasted during the hours it is not broadcasting and one station seems a waste of time as it is doing what the other commercial stations are doing already and that's a station called Capital Disney. By the name I cannot decide if that is a joint venture between the Disney Corp and Capital Radio in London. Or a station run by Disney.

But yes, there is adequate and increased choice of listening by having the digital set.

I understand that in the pipeline more frequencies are to be released especially for more national stations, possibly a different type of digital system which had this country waited might've been the one chosen as it also allows a signal from much further away so in a way could offer something like the old shortwave radio so you can hear stations from abroad but the quality would be fine.

Then, we have the likelihood of Europe investing in a satellite delivered radio system such as the two that exist in the States where you might pay £10 a month and be offered radio channels each offering a different genre and no commercials.

And of course we will see more radio delivered by the net from across the globe and again the quality will improve.

Some radio is likely to be included in the new version of Freeview which will be delivered via satellite as an alternative to Freeview delivered as now via a TV aerial and not always available across the UK. And if ITV/BBC ever get this project off the ground and broadcasting, it could be an alternative to Sky's platform and give viewers an alternative and give Sky some competition and unlike Sky, being called Freesat, from what I have heard(if correct)all channels carried on this system will be available free apart from the initial cost of the receiving equipment(box and dish)

So there is much happening and no doubt we'll all have to change systems a few times over the coming years.

So perhaps just as well I only paid about £40 for my digital radio. If I have to buy something different I won't feel too bad losing that amount of cash.

But yes, I am happy with my DAB Radio...

Now to find a phono cable that offers female connections on one end and male on the other, no one on this town sells any, just male to male, so I can lengthen the cable but adding bus or taxi fare to go to the neighbouring towns makes its an expensive item to buy. So I'll wait or hey, if it costs no more...I'll get it on the internet direct.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gildersleeve's Reputation Spreads Just A Little Bit...

It does kind of follow on from the previous entry about radio. I have dipped my toe into having a few e-mails read out on Steve Allen's show on LBC FM and whilst regulars do write in often and their contributions are read out I try to limit my contributions so that I cannot be said to hog the programme.

It is available on line streamed as is most of LBC's output in both this country and around the world but they also have some kind of service where all shows are available to download to an mp3 player or a computer and all commercials etc...are removed so all you hear is the programme. I believe it costs something like £10 per 6 months but during that time you can have as much as you like.

Well, it would appear that some comments made by me on the BBC Radio 5 message board had been spotted by one of Steve's regular listeners Jane and she told him that The Great Gildersleeve had mentioned his programme and that I was going to buy a DAB radio instead of listening to some of Radio 5's output, the impression was that I was criticising Simon Mayo's afternoon show and yes, that was correct to some extent in that a topic had come around again having already been covered extensively and it will again and again for the next 6 years or so regarding who will benefit from the Olympics happening in London in 2012.

But the main reason for this post was that there is a presenter called Stephen Nolan who keeps winning the Sony Radio Awards(a radio industry accolade)but whereas some presenters divide listeners and you can find people for or against someone the overall response on both Radio 5's message board and Radio Ulster(he works on both stations for now)but it looks as though he'll eventually be a fixture on the National UK network is that many feel his style is not suitable for these stations. Much worse has been said about his presentation over on the BBC Radio 5 Station board< he may see it as a compliment but if anyone over here has seen Trisha or Jeremy Kyle's television programmes, you have a good idea how his radio show is.

It may done tongue in cheek and listeners may be taking him too seriously but he still has a lot to learn to be classed as good as some of the greats that have paved the way for his career. It may've done to get a reaction but telling your listeners to get stuffed is not a way to gain friends. Sometimes, you switch on the radio forgetting its set to Radio 5 and every programme seems a repeat of a previous week's style and the topics chosen. You can almost bet that their will a sex story with a sleaze angle, something perhaps about bullying or rather appropriately a discussion about obesity which nearly always makes a reference to himself. Its not that I am a prude and I am sure that some presenters could manage to talk on any subject and listeners could either be interested or even accept it on a light hearted level but the skills are lacking. Many of us now try and find something else to do.

Even articles in the newspapers always talk about his weight problems.

This is the latest story to be published Stephen NolanIf you can access Radio 5 or Radio Ulster on line via satellite, Listen Again or the Live Stream on line you can make your own mind up. What I actually said was that I was thinking that as Nolan is going to fill in on the morning programmme whilst the regular presenter takes a two week break...I would prefer to play back a time shifted Steve Allen programme.

Luckily through time shifting I would've heard Steve read out this about my post on the message board but someone reading the message board and very alert informed me that I was mentioned and even told me whereabouts so I could find it.

Thank you Llucia. As I said earlier today, as I only use my first name on Steve's show when I send in an e-mail, unless he reads the boards himself or is told or strays over here, he'll not know that TGG and I are one and the same.
LBC FM has replaced a news station that was on Digital Radio and from September 1st will be available in or around...Hartlepool, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar, South Shields, Houghton Le Spring, Northallerton, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Stockton On Tees, Sunderland, Chester Le Street, Scunthorpe, Leeds, Grimsby, Doncaster, York, Barnsley, Selby, Rottherham, Sheffield, Birmingham, Wallsall, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Coventry, Dudley, West Bromwich, Sutton Coalfield, Stafford, Sandwell, Cardiff, Bristol, Vale of Glamorgan, Newport, Bridge End, Bath, Kingsworth, Avon Mouth, Chippenham, Milbury Heath, Blackpool, Preston, Lancaster, Manchester, South Port, Sale, Wigan, Bolton, Liverpool, Chester and Birkenhead.

So this will remind me of the days when we used to have Radio 5 and Talk Radio, I was torn as to which to listen to. I would guess that the original Talk Radio disappeared approx 8 years ago as it started to change when I first took ill and one by one regular presenters resigned or were finished because they did not like the change of format, management etc...or the new boss decided that they did not fit the image.

Though LBC has had a few changes of management in various guises many of Talk Radio's ex presenters have passed through its doors and some are there now. In fact Many of LBC's presenters went to Talk radio and when it changed, many were taken back by LBC making it sound like Talk Sport but whereas Talk Radio had been available nationwide, this version was only available in the London area.

Thanks to LBC coming onto Satellite, the net and now DAB radio it gets a national audience. In time I feel what will happen is that, the pure London feed will remain on satellite but DAB will have opt outs where news with a more local feel will be added. In time the larger areas of the country may even opt out for some local speech/phone-ins and presenters but perhaps from Midnight-7am for example it will take the London feed again.

Test transmissions are happening already but officially September 1st is LBC Day! Approx 33 years since it was originally launched. It can only be a matter of time before Scotland, N. Ireland and The South England gets it via DAB.

LBC 97.3

Oh, and finally, the other week I was reading my copy of Webuser(a great magazine about the internet)and a question that I asked on their forum page on the net was there in print so yet another surprise. Whatever next?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Radio but perhaps not as we know it

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I love radio. I always did and perhaps as I grow older I realise that I probably prefer radio to television.

Of course I probably have memories of programmes that I listened to as a child but does any particular programme stand out, I'm not sure, I think that because I listened to so many different types of radio I view the medium as a whole.

A place that informed and could entertain me.

I have dabbled in commercial radio listening but generally I am a BBC radio person. As far as I know the "Pirate" radio stations on board ships were very difficult to hear in the North East of England in the 60's and the only one that I remember was the short lived Radio 270 off the coast of Scarborough, N. Yorks. When proper commercial radio was given the go ahead on land I was a big supporter of Metro Radio based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, even though officially I should've been served by Radio Tees(later renamed TFM)I long since stopped listening to either as they sound similar and like just about any such station across the the UK.

Commercial radio bleats about BBC Radio having an advantage over them because of the licence fee. But if they were any good, advertisers would pump money into the commercial stations, listeners would be...listening. Perhaps a commercial station would like to be bold and do something different such as speech radio(apart from Oneword that mainly broadcasts audio books)and something like LBC FM(a kind of version of the defunct Talk Radio)and LBC AM(News)and grudgingly to some extent Talk Sport(which was born out of the original Talk Radio after it was taken over)how exciting is commercial radio in the UK? I may be about to dip my toe into digital radio because the only way I can hear LBC FM is via a satellite system but officially from September 1st 2006 it is available across most of the UK via digital radio and as frequencies are freed up eventually everywhere. Test transmissions as I speak. Most of Wales, Midlands, North of England will hear it for definate. In a way its a bit like getting Talk Radio back years after it closed and some of the presenters from there are on LBC FM including Anna Raeburn and Nick Abbot.

One presenter who is known in London and has had a show on LBC for almost 30 years is Steve Allen, its all tongue in cheek and everyone gets a tongue lashing from celebs to people from the North of England, Wales and wherever and where most who have listened to him in London know what to expect though he says he has no intention of changing, people who listen now across the country and do not understand the humour may very well start to complain to the broadcasting regulators and that would be a pity. He may still get away with it only in the fact that he is tucked away at the early hour of 5am-7am weekdays.

Anywhere in the world for that matter. It is suggested that for various reasons, listeners in the country(USA)that was the blueprint of commercial radio are tired of it hence the growth in radio delivered by satellite which offers channels of a certain genre and a monthly fee paid to listen(a bit like going back to a radio license idea)

In a way commercial radio has copied America more than perhaps we realise.

In the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's it offered drama, music, comedy, sport, news and so on. High quality material on the whole. Once television came in and performers and the public switched to the new medium rightly or wrongly radio decided to leave television to it and it was then easier to play records, read a news bulletin and perhaps do a phone-in. Just maybe, had some had the foresight to continue to offer more than just spinning records, it could've worked alongside television and still offered more than playing the Top40 over and over again.

But like so many countries they gave up and now allowing for a few exceptions(usually on public radio or the nearest to that model that exists in Canada, Australia or America...)it is all but dead except for good old Auntie Beeb. Secretly I think many regret giving up on speech radio. Ocassionally, some broadcasters do attempt to produce radio drama again or issue radio style material on CD for the public to purchase.

I have meant to write something on this for months but was prompted by the fact that the Daily Mail printed an article earlier today...I cannot decide if its an extract from a book written by a popular broadcaster or she wrote it for the paper but the credit goes to Radio: A True Love Story by Libby Purves (Hodder & Stoughton)

I quote from the piece:

"In Britain we have been lucky. An accident of history meant that broadcasting, at whose heart lies radio, grew up as a public service rather than a commercial venture. This enabled it to flourish and experiment, fed by ideals that went beyond profit or propaganda.

Music and chat stations all over the globe are often pleasant listening, but Britain's networks are replicated nowhere else and could never be reinvented from scratch on a self-funding basis."

That point I agree with.

She also says:

"BBC Radio has its faults — it can be smug, and recently parts of it have abandoned some of the demanding values of taste and intelligence it once set itself. But basically it keeps up its standards well, on amazingly low budgets."

Of course there is quality and with access now to some BBC stations that I once could not hear unless I lived in Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales I could not access as easily and the fact that the World Service is also available to a domestic audience, I have to agree again. On the whole when BBC Radio does a sporting event, a drama, a documentary the quality of the production is there for all to hear.

But as it is doing things that commercial radio avoids and because BBC television gets the lion's share of the license fee perhaps we should question that if radio is as important to the public and we want it to remain so and if it can be done with so little revenue...radio should be given a little more to either bring it back to the standard it once was known for or be given an increase in finances that could make it even better.

As for standards being lowered criticism of Radio 5 by many on the messageboards is justified, it is classed as a news and sports station and I have no real problem with it mentioning light and dark, trivia and heavy but I do want presenters that are of a high enough standard fronting the programmes and often those chosen seem to have been picked because they open their mouth and talk but that does not always mean that they are saying anything interesting.

We have lots of television channels now where you phone in and try and win money and the presenter basically just keeps talking for two or three hours to camera and all they are doing is repeating the same script over and over again. But I am not sure that makes them a great broadcaster. One I watched the other night even had a series of expressions that were obviously false and not natural, it was as if she was a trained animal.

Using Radio 5 as an example they do have capable broadcasters on their rota and many that even those who complain about certain presenters admit that they would like or could accept but often we get left with the worst examples.

Perhaps someone could show me statistics to prove otherwise but I do believe that there is less drama, comedy and such programmes being produced and broadcast than before. A lot of what radio does more than ever is people sitting in a studio talking a lot in the style of a dinner party.

Therefore, though its a digital station it is interesting that BBC7 is the most popular of the new stations and is playing programmes that survived being erased and were hidden in the BBC archive probably thought of as to never be heard again. Perhaps, as digital radio increases in popularity BBC7's remit could change and it could be allowed to be a station that plays archive material and commissions new comedies and drama's plus also plays re-runs of newer material from Radio 4 and other BBC outlets.

Then BBC Radio 4 could maybe deal with news and feature/information material, Radio 5 seems unable to decide whether sport is news, rarely does news take over a sports programme but often sport takes up more and more of the time allotted to the news output and so even though sport has its own phone-in's often a sports story takes up too much time on what is a news or magazine type programme. It may be that the Government has to change the remit of a BBC station but if digital radio is taking off, I would like to see Radio 5's main station be mainly news and its sister station Five Live Extra used more for total sport output or a place to put sports talk when the station is often not used because there are no sporting events taking place.

But I appreciate that when sports events clash Radio 5 has to give way and both are used.
Dixons, the country's largest electrical chain, sells more radios today than it did in 1985 — but they are now nearly all digital. The fact that it sells 30 times more of them than it does analogue models has resulted in its recent decision to stop selling analogue radios altogether.

But just as we have been told that there is a lack of frequencies hence television going digital(let us not forget that the spectrum that analogue television used is to be sold off to other commercial companies)probably raising millions for the treasury and in time the same may be true if/when AM/Fm is ditched though so far I have never seen a time frame for when that will happen. But as good as digital radio seems to be to many because of the extra choice it offers and perhaps the improvement in parts of the country where radio listening is still a problem even digital radio is not always as good as what it is said to be in all the advertising material.

Quite often some stations available in stereo on FM are reduced in quality because another station has to borrow some of the available bandwidth, or to enable more stations to broadcast sometimes the threshold of another stations bitrate is reduced. Some stations that are available on an alternative platform to digital radio such as BBC7 and Radio 5 are in stereo if heard on digital satellite but on digital radio are only available in mono. And if listened to on freeview again sometimes bits of the spectrum are borrowed so quality can vary.

Also, portable digital radio is not necessarily available because if the signal is affected, it can cut out or click and pop whereas am/fm can manage to give some kind of signal even if the signal is weak.

Many people find that a digital radio may work in one room but not in another and some have even had to invest in connection to a new aerial.

So the brave new world of digital has created as many problems as it has tried to cure. I did read that some countries have held back on introducing digital radio, some have stopped after actually starting to use the medium and there are already alternatives being talked about to the present system adopted in the UK so things are still to be worked out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Gentleman...

Whilst I believe there is something in being able to read what someone is like and you can sense an atmosphere when you walk in a room or you get an instinctive feeling about someone whether negative or positive.

I really think that you have to be in the company of someone to really know them. In the case of those of us who have contacted each other through our blogs, messageboards, e-mails regularly I think we can say that this is a bit like being in the company of someone.

But for all the people in the media world that I criticise and see as shallow, I sometimes if asked have trouble trying to think of someone who impresses me, that I have respect for, that I like, that I think as far as I can believe that I would like to know or feel that I would be at ease with.

I could be wrong and sometimes when you meet someone in the public eye you can be disappointed but I get a good feeling and have a tremendous liking and respect for the actor Alan Alda.

No one is perfect, who would want to be? But I have heard him interviewed a number of times and he appears to have no airs and graces.

There is a look of gentleness and humour in his face, he has a twinkle in his eyes. Its rare for me to want to listen to interviews with celebs these days because they are so controlled by the Pr people and the celeb usually only wants to promote something and talk about their latest book, play, film or whatever but he will talk about anything.

And I really think when I get the chance I will read his book.

I cannot say that I have seen much of his work although growing up I did always make a point of watching the television series that probably made him most famous M*A*S*H*(interesting that in the States television insisted that a laughter track accompany it and that Larry Gelbert wanted it aired without but over here on BBC they took it without one but when it last played on satellite the laughter track was added again and it seemed so strange)

But he really comes across in the true sense of the word. He is a Gentleman and a Gentle Man.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Its been years since I watched them. Seeing that Film4 in the UK are showing them again in an occasional series its prompted me to look at...

The Universal horror movies of the 30's and early 40's. In Particular Frankenstein.

For the time and even looking back across the years to when they were produced I can appreciate why they scared and excited the public who went to see them. I guess like many of the studio's that have a hit on their hands, its knowing when to stop so the script does not suffer and the public tire. I suppose once you had Abbott and Costello Meets...you really were coming to the end. Though to be fair Universal probably saw it as another way to make the format popular again and perhaps if the statistics were studied, they still did ok at the box office and made plenty of money, after Abbott and Costello were popular across the world especially in America thanks to their films but also their radio show.

As I write this, I am trying to think how old I must've been when I first saw them but my recollections would suggest that I was quite young. How have times changed? Well, when I would see them I suspect they were on BBC television and shown late at night. This screening goes out at 4.55pm on a Monday afternoon.

I don't remember saying that I was going to watch this series of pictures, I do not remember questions being raised or being told that I could not or being stopped. I don't remember having nightmares. But I was struck by the feel and mood, the style of the horror genre that Universal had tapped into.

I do remember a particular scene where the "Monster" kills a little girl and this has bothered people for years. It is one of the most important scenes in the film. I say kill because I do not believe the murder was intended.

Some say(and its the way I see it)that having thrown flowers into a river and seen them float because the little innocent girl is beautiful in the Monster's eyes, he throws the little girl into the river expecting her to float which she does not and he does not understand.

But it obviously makes some people feel uneasy and in such times as today such scenes are likely to be cut.

Then again, releases of the films with all scenes that have been censored over the years reinstated are available. An advantage of DVD's I suspect. I do wonder though if a dedicated film channel such as Film4 will be brave or allowed to show the film uncut.

I do have the feeling that the last time that I saw it on terrestrial television the censored version was still being aired. Or it really is potluck which version a television purchases the rights to, knowingly or otherwise. Then again as said previously when you start to read about all the cuts that were made by the various censors across America and even here in the UK, its a wonder it was shown at all.

Or that edits altered the original meaning or could have stopped it making any sense but as cartoons from the 20's through to the 60's are at times also heavily edited and some not shown in case they offend why should I be surprised.

One of these days I'll mention how cuts and political correctness have even affected Tom And Jerry cartoons(Warner Bros cartoons are very heavily censored)they are not seen on terrestrial tv over here and it may not necessarily only be because the rights are owned by a cable/satellite channel, why then should I be surprised that these old films have also been affected by scenes being left on the cutting room floor back then and still to this day.


An interesting site worth a look(I am sure that there are others)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Eve Of Destruction

A song came out in the 60's(many did)full of ideals from people who were disillusioned with the world and what they could see was happening around them. Call the artists, performers, composers etc...what you will. Most I suspect were genuine. Some probably found that it was a way to make a living and used the general feeling of the time to further their careers. Some disappeared, others continued this crusade throughout the whole of their lives.

I cannot say that I know the song well. I do know that it was sung by Barry McGuire(once the distinctive voice of The New Christie Minstrels, some of you may remember Three Wheels On My Wagon and Green, Green)

I know it is talked of as a classic(who decides these things?)and comes up time and time again when the subject of protest songs is mentioned. I am sure that someone, somewhere is writing political/protest/idealistic songs even now but have they lost their importance?

With the explosion of television and radio channels. The increase of outlets for the printed word and the internet gives many, more than ever the chance to air their views.

As for the Eve of Destruction some of the conflicts mentioned at that time are still happening, some have come to end and some have been replaced by others. Were those mentioned, just short hand examples to make a point? Or do such people have an insight and now as forty one years have past by, we can say that this song writer was correct?

In the history of the world how long is the eve to an event? A hundred years, a thousand years, a million years?

And though we Humans might hurry the event along by our actions, when this planet that we live on and all the other aspects of the Universe plays its part, no matter what we do, when the time is up, its up. Then again, by nature or our action, the Earth may survive for millions of years without us actually being around. We may believe we are clever and manage to solve many problems but we also create as many.

And how many think of the conquences. You can start off at the simplest level, the youth who throws away a half eaten takewaway or can of pop where they stand all the way through to events on the world stage.

Conflict? Think about all the back biting that goes on in some families, the workplace, between neighbours, in volunteer organisations, in Parliament etc etc...and then expand it to a larger scale. And just as in personal relationships, some countries never fight, some fight over anything and some give in.

The song also says much much more. It was composed by Phil F. Sloan.

And with that here are some of the lyrics to that famous song.

The Eve Of Destruction

The eastern world

It is explodin'

Violence flaring, bullets loading

You're old enough to kill

But not for votin'

You don't believe in war

Then what's that gun you're totin'

When even the Jordan River has bodies floating

But you tell me

Over and over and over again my friend

You don't believe we're on

The Eve of Destruction

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say

Can't you feel the fear that I feel today

If the button is pushed there's no running away

There'll be no one to save

With the world in a grave

Take a look around you boy

It's bound to scare you boy

But you tell me

Over and over and over again my friend

You don't believe we're on

The Eve of Destruction

Phil F. Sloan

Barry McGuire

Monday, August 14, 2006

Is it an age thing?

Ok I'm a snob(probably)when it comes to music, films, books, plays etc...why should my choice be more important than anyone else? Oh, I can have some things that fall into the category of populist culture, that I should not like and may feel guilty that I do. I may not even be able to explain why.

On the other hand even things I detest, I can often work out why they are popular with the public at large and/or what will be.

So taking a massive overview of much of what pop guru's like Simon Cowell(Pop Idol/X Factor)offer as music is not "my bag!"(What's that mean? Where did that come from?)An expression I don't think I have ever used before.

So he appeared on BBC Radio 4's long running Desert Island Discs today. What would he pick as his eight records?

Is his choice governed by what he heard as became an adult or judged on the musical abilities of the artist? The craft of the song writer and production team?

Here is what he chose...
1. Bobby Darin - Mack The Knife
2. Herb Alpert - This Guy's In Love With You
3. Charles Aznavour - She
4. The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody
5. Wayne Newton - Danke Schon
6. Daniel Beddingfield - If You're Not The One
7. Frank Sinatra - Summer Wind
8. Sammy Davis Jr - Mr Bojangles

Out of the eight, if it was narrowed down to one it came down to Bobby Darin.

Of course like any art it has to adapt and grow. New artists have to be found and encouraged but this shows that there is a place for those who have gone before and yet how many places are there available to hear the above?

Many of the so called gold radio stations will stick to certain decades and chart music, few if any will raid the vast achives of material that is worth a listen by artists unless it was in "The Charts" and often the only way is to try and find it wherever you are able. How do you discover genres of music if you are not even aware that they exist?

And yet if a record company raids their back catalogues it is amazing how many of the artists neglected or considered uncool today will find their CD's back in the charts of today. At present we have Donovan.

Its years since I heard anything that he was doing. I certainly have no idea what music he has been bringing out since the 1960's, as far as I knew he was no longer recording or performing. Maybe, he hasn't been but on the back of the re-release of this older stuff, suddenly he'll be in demand again.

He has an auto biography out too.

And who is going to interview him? Today, it was Steve Allen on LBC with the programme That Reminds Me.

Now, Donovan for anyone around at the time was the embodiment of hippy culture. The songs, the fashion, his attitude to the establishment of the day. Mixing with people like Dylan and Baez.
So what did he pick as music that means something to him?
Burl Ives - I Know An Old Lady
Billie Holliday - Strange Fruit
Woody Guthrie - This Land Is My Land
Nina Simone - And I'm Feeling Good
The Beatles - Love Me Do
Keane - Is It Any Wonder
Bob Marley And The Wailers - One Love
Donovan - Sunshine Superman

But both lists show one thing, that though they are able to embrace new material alongside the old many outlets today just want to force the new onto us. I think that we all know why.

The internet downloading sites I would like to think are adding to the choice of music available or could, because what could be seen as a small audience is still quite large when they are all coming to the same site. And I would like to see such sites add more easy listening music which is not heard on radio or available in the shops unless some specialist record lable decides to issue material. And often that information is not always readily available.

Those in the business do, from the choices above show that they prefer older material that they feel comfortable with. If I was interviewing them I would ask why? Are these memories or something about the way music is structured?

Posted by Picasa

The Donovan Image and more are available at the BBC website. I did have a link here but they appear to be changing things around over there so you may have to do some searching.

Donovan's Official Website

Could you narrow your favourite pieces of music down to such a small list? I'm not sure that I could. And listening to BBC7 both Augustus and myself have thrown up the idea that on an archive station and with the longevity of the series some great people from all walks of life have been included as guests so why not air some of the interviews(even if the music cannot be played for contractural reasons)or other reasons such as restrictions from the estate of Roy Plomley who thought up the format or for some other reason, all these programmes do not get repeated. Not even is it available on the listen again service of the BBC unless heard as a live stream as the programme goes out on Radio 4.

Also, though music is not played for too long, when the idea was put forward it was met by quite a few dissenting voices on the BBC7 messageboard because some music would be heard on BBC7.

So if Radio 4 won't play 'em where else does such a popular programme get a repeat? Even BBC6 Music will play music documentaries from other BBC networks and BBC7 plays speech so just where if Desert Island Discs could be heard again would you place it?

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I recycle as much as the next person(hopefully more so)but one thing I do seem to go through more than most is kettles!

What's wrong with them these days? I've tried expensive kettles, inexpensive kettles and all kinds in between. They always me lasted me years.

I've descaled them with prepared products specially for the job. I've used lemon juice. I have even tried not using anything and still they fail me and seemingly within months now.

Last weekend, the kettle managed to knock all the electric off across the whole house and when its late at night, its not welcome when your pc and television and whatever else goes off. Usually, if something fails just the circuit the faulty item is on goes down but this took the whole system down.

So today I went to Argos and bought the lowest priced kettle that they do £5.49 I think. "Would like to have an extended warranty on your purchased item?" What at that price? And besides whilst its away being repaired what do I do? No, if it goes wrong in say 6 months...I'll just come back in and if the item is still available at that price, I'll buy another.

Are they adding something in the water? Why are they all failing so easily these days. All I do is boil water for a cup of tea or coffee. I'm not doing anything strange. Seeing all that each kettle is just a plastic body with a metal element, the elements seem to be wearing out easily.

Even the old immersion heaters element lasts longer and it is in water all the time. I think the same element will have been in the immersion heater for over 25 years, much longer. Though now, it is quicker and easier to use the gas boiler.

We may think modern technology like computers etc...to be a nuisance sometimes but simple gadgets can be just as annoying and troublesome.

Newton News

Newton News is a free newspaper usually full of stories featuring what the mayor gets up to, the scouts and various organisations but its main purpose is as a small publication to place advertisements. It usually runs to 4 pages.

It used to be known as The Newtonian and is published by a family business that does anything you can think from printing leaflets to personal stationery and much more. It continues over the years to branch out into other areas such as computers and even a café.

I do not want to take credit for the following entry in my blog so I give credit to the company Newton Press and their publication Newton News and so if you wish to read more on this subject and other things that happen in this town, I direct you via the link to a version of it on line.

Newton News

I am reducing what the article says and at the time of writing this, it has yet to appear in the on line version.

If I had broadband and was computer savvy having given credit to the original author I would've probably let you read the extract direct by copying it here. But as that is not possible, I'll pick out the important pieces.

My reason for mentioning this article is that it ties in with my own blog entry of a few weeks ago and the state the town centre finds itself.

According to the front page article...the demolition that I mentioned scheduled for July shows no sign of happening but then the paper goes onto report rumours as to why things are dragging. Staff of a recently closed shop told of existing shop owners coming to the end of their lease are being asked to sign up for new 25 year agreements.

The paper also says that anyone who signs a lease is legally obliged to pay the rent for the whole of that period. Only reassigning the lease to another party gives them the chance to stop paying.

The new party has to be acceptable to the Landlords and if the new party defaults the onus falls on the original lessee.

The paper suggests that short term leases are available to new people to have go but still tries to keep existing shopkeepers under the old agreements.

The paper suggests alternative ideas that may be acceptable to both Landlord and prospective private retailers. Such as low rents and easy terms so they can hopefully become established.

Another idea is rental based on a percentage of shop takings.

On behalf of the Landlords on page two there is a reply from the Town Centre Manager...

Its reported that he said:There is no disagreement over the price of demolished property and that was agreed a long time ago. That basically a commitment to complete Phase 2 is being sought.
That the 25 year lease terms is untrue. Ten years is the maximum and shorter terms are being agreed.

That the latest shop to close did not enter into any negotiation for a new lease.
I have not put any of my own inference on the story for either side.

Avoiding mentioning rumours. Once the article is added to the site you can read it for yourself.

Now on the other hand as I passed the building I showed a picture of in a previous entry on here...I noticed that the school dentist who had space in the health centre for I would think 30 years plus, has moved to Darlington and I will be interested to see whether having made the move to a new location, it ever returns after all the redevelopment has taken place. It must cost quite a lot of money to relocate and set up a new practise.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How Kind...

I have received some information from a government department. I suspect it is being sent to people considered to be of an age that you are still able to work(not hard when the retirement age is to be raised in the future)and we are told that because we are living longer, we will have to work longer.

This information is full of terms like you "may get this" "We estimate" and the leaflet included suggests that if you reach the State Pension age after 2010 they Government wants to increase the number of people eligible for a State Pension. They estimate I will have £90 per week to live on.

The information is very much written in a style to emphasise how important it is to save and in a way to suggest they are telling you this to help you.

When I was a child/teenager, we were being told by the media that medical advances and well paid jobs, company/private pension schemes would mean our living standards would be higher.

That we would be able to save and probably have something to pass onto our loved ones.

We would be healthier and with our extra wealth we could perhaps do things that we were unable to during the years of work and raising a family.

There was the possibility of many people retiring earlier than the official 60 years for Women and 65 years for Men.

There are exceptions. Many have managed to find themselves in a situation where life is good materialistically but I doubt it is the majority.

Then we were told over the years how the population would grow and put a strain on the environment and social services, now they say the opposite, that there are not enough young people around working and paying towards into the system to raise the money needed to help those who are retired. And in turn for their own well being.

Hence another reason for increasing the retirement age and making you claim your State/company pensions later.

If you work longer, you may've lived longer in years but because you have started the retirement later, you will probably find your retirement is as short as its always been and little has been gained.

Then there are all those bills that come in for our essentials like energy and as this country becomes less sufficient we are having to import more and more and see prices of gas and electric. And I suspect that even cutting back on what we use still makes little difference to the amount we pay.

The population is taxed in so many ways...and every year there is another scheme introduced to raise money. Some are not classed as a tax but the result is the same...less money in the pocket. I am sure that there are plenty of examples in many countries.

Many taxes are just silly. Examples can be found in our country's history as far back as any documentary material is available. Two that come to mind are the Window Tax(you were penalised for letting natural light into your property and if it had more than six windows, you were charged per window)and a Wig Tax at a time when it was normal for many women and Men to wear wigs as part of their image and fashion at that time.

Perhaps twenty years ago one of the oldest taxes available was reintroduced The Poll Tax. After a lot of unrest through the country, this tax was given a new name and some changes made to make it a bit more palatable but for many it is still unpopular and difficult to pay.

Some people through no fault of their own are unable to work and find themselves being helped by the state. And that's a difficult one at the best of times.

You may be in the position where you can have a reasonable, if frugal existence. You might be in a position where you could put aside some savings for retirement and emergencies but the threshold on taxing savings is so low that by saving you will find in real terms financially its a struggle and then you'll probably bite into savings and be even worse off.

Many pension schemes have failed those who have paid into them for years and did try to do something about the future and they have had a nasty shock.

I looked into if I could save towards retirement and make a difference to my life as a pensioner and after travel expenses, rent, taxes, utility bills, etc...there is no way I had spare cash to think about a saving scheme.

And I have never spent a lot on luxury, I couldn't but if I had taken out a scheme, I would have had little pleasure...it would be work, work, work.

Its just as well that I equate my life in more than just monetary terms but worries about finances must play its part in how stressed or depressed people are especially in our later years.

Life was hard in the past, in reality more so than today and I have to concede it has improved in many ways(I'm only talking of my own country) but to assume that it is no longer difficult is a fallacy, especially if we compare our lifestyle with other countries, it is all relevant, its just that we judge life from the standards we expect in our own country.

Wig Tax

Window Tax

Taxes across the world

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Get It On...Bang A Gong...

Ken Richmond has passed away...


You could be forgiven for not knowing who he is or the news not being reported much. I'll be honest I did not know who he was either but for a chance mention on a local radio show in London by a presenter up on many things media based, I'd be none the wiser.

There is also a connection with Carl Dane and "Bombardier" Billy Wells(A name that I had vaguely heard of)and Carl Dane.

So what do they all have in common? They all banged a gong...

Anyone who watches an old film produced by the J Arthur Rank company at the cinema and assuming television companies show films from the start will have seen all the above.

How observant am I? I never gave it a thought or studied whether it was the same person at the start of a Rank film, I assumed once the opening was filmed it was just tagged onto all of their studio's output. After all so many studios have kept the same logo for their product over the years although I suppose even those that use drawn or computer graphics change them every so often.

Richmond has talked of how he received a one off payment of £100 for the work and that the gong was a papier mâché mock-up. I have noticed myself that he never actually hits it. Just places his hammer close to it.

He appeared in a lot of films as an extra but was a super-heavyweight freestyle wrestling champion.

He represented England in various Olympic and Commonwealth games during the 1950's taking various medals.

An interesting character, he was awarded a medal windsurfing at the age of 67.

Richmond was still used until Rank announced last year that it was preparing to sell its last remaining film assets.

Some information of the other Rank gong bangers...

Carl Dane, a 6ft 5in former circus strongman, was the first gong-banger. He started in 1932 and was still banging on in 1948. Because of deteriorating film stock, the sequence had to be refilmed every three years.

Billy Wells was a former heavyweight boxer. He was said to have been one of the best fighters of the last century but I suppose it depends on the competition at the time.

I am sure that there are many books full of trivia and a few articles on the net that give much more detail.

Here's a link to one such article.

Ken Richmond

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Top Of The Pops

I don't know if these were exclusive to the British shores during the 1970's or there was a similar idea happening across Europe and elsewhere but there was a series of LP's issued that I never purchased myself but they were popular enough to have a respectable sales figure.

I do remember seeing them in the shops but I am not sure that I ever actually heard any of them.

They were called Top Of The Pops and were produced by the Hallmark label which was part of the Pickwick Music Group. They were an album that cost little more than the price of a single record but they offered many chart hits but the catch was that they were cover versions by session musicians and they would be asked to reproduce just about any record that was in the top twenty and not just sing a version in their own style but as close to the original.

I suspect for many young male teenagers they also quite liked the fact that every album had a pretty young female on the cover...don't think that they ever produced any with a male model for the female customer. Again, perhaps a sign of the times maybe they felt those with most money to spend would be male.

Even on the grounds that probably in this time no one would want a "Fake" and would rather have the original, I am not so sure that record companies would like to have such a product on sale as in theory, if the public purchases a copy, you are directing possible sales away from the genuine article.

I always where possible will buy original artists and versions of music unless its say a genuine cover...an example would be The American Breed issued a version of Bend Me, Shape Me, in the UK we had Amen Corner. I now have heard both. I think I like the American version better. That's different to what is an impersonation. I even dislike it when I see an album where it says, new version with as many of the original members as possible, I want the original.

Now, as far as possible with my pocket money, I seem to remember myself buying or when records were bought for me always buying original. I seem to remember a period when I did not buy records and I cannot think why I stopped. Approx 6 years and then started again. I have been through such a period in the last 10-15 years but that's probably for financial reasons and a lack of things that have interested me. I am certainly quite clueless about what is in the charts today.

However, I have to admit to one lapse in my wanting only original artists. In the local record store in town I seem to remember that there was a series of singles that came out monthly I would guess and they would cost 10/-(that's 50p today)and they had three songs on either side and someone would try to take off six of the most popular chart songs. Surprise, surprise they were called Top Six.

I don't know how many I bought but I must 've had a few. What songs were on them, I honestly cannot remember except for one(why this remains a memory I don't know)some unknown vocalist attempting to sound like Louis Armstrong singing 'Hello Dolly'

If anyone has access to the BBC Radio website and can listen online to the live stream or listen again for the next 7 days there is a programme all about these Top Of The Pops records where the musicians talk about them and what their work entailed. It goes out live on BBC Radio 4 Saturday 5th August 2006 10.30am BST on FM or if in the UK or abroad with access to Sky on Channel 0104 or Freeview 704.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Earth And Fire

Having talked of music that I dislike but also mentioning that I am still discovering new artists, I am still finding music from years ago that I did not know existed. It could be that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time or for all the promotion that goes on in the music business somewhere along the way the promotion was bad or the time was not right and the record company did not stick with the artist or group.

Rightly or wrongly sometimes the fact that an artist sang in their native tongue it was a barrier to them getting airplay in a country where English is the main spoken language but many like Abba were clever and astute enough to sing in their native tongue and various other languages for a European market but also realised that to get anywhere, it was important to learn to craft their lyrics and speak English to the highest standard possible and over their career you could see the confidence grow and the quality of the writing.

To some extent some British artists in the 60's especially would attempt to sing their hits for continental Europe in mainly French or Spanish. Some struggled and learned everything phonetically others really bothered and a perfect case of someone who learned her craft and embraced the French was Petula Clark who lived there, married a Frenchman and performed most of her concerts there and recorded her songs in the French language.

So I was reminiscing and came across a couple of old singles...of a Dutch group. Perhaps not living in a big city, lack of airplay on the radio, I don't know but whereas the Swedish group Abba and others made it here...and even the Dutch rock band Focus had some success, one group seems to have missed out. Its even worse when I realise that I am talking of band that existed some 36 years ago. It will have long since disbanded and all the members will be in their 50's/60's now. I know of only two songs that I heard through poor reception via the English service of Radio North Sea International...one of the last pirate ships off the coast of the Netherlands during the middle 70's. Usually on "Daffy" Don Allen's show(ex Radio Caroline DJ in the 60's, Canadian I think)Lived on the Isle Of Man for many years. Later became involved with some of the pirate stations or stations that found a loophole that allowed them to broadcast on land that started up in Southern Ireland in the early 80's.

Sadly, no longer with us...a great broadcaster and a lovely guy.

The group was known as Earth And Fire, their sound was unusual, they had a female vocalist, their sound suggested two but that might've been due to studio mixing, the rest of the band played guitar, drums and early synthesisers. Perhaps their albums were heavier than the singles released but the two that I remember being Love Of Life and Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight. And where did I find them and it was like someone giving me £100(I'm easily pleased)when I used to go on holiday to Bournemouth I could always be found in the local record stores looking for what I could bring home that probably was unavailable here. And I found both those records in a department store's record section in the bargain basket.

Maybe I should have done more searching for more from this group but you know what its like you get distracted over the years by something else, money was a little tight if you were only getting pocket money...Suddenly something jogs the memory and you start to get nostalgic.

Earth And Fire I am sorry that your success was not what it might've been. Of course they may very well have had a very successful career in The Netherlands and mainland Europe. I did try to google them a few years ago(perhaps I should again)but all I kept finding were sites that wanted to tell me about Earth, Wind and Fire.

Another little story about a record is again connected to Bournemouth. Boscombe was back in its history probably a seperate town in its own right but over the years it is difficult to know where Boscombe ends and Bournemouth begins. We tended to stay in Boscombe and also because everywhere was so accessable on foot, plenty of short cuts and lots of busses too. Can you believe when I first went on holiday there, the busses were connected to overhead cables around the town and district and sometimes the connecting arm would become disconnected and have to be hooked back on. I did hear of plans to go back to something similar recently.

I digress, I often do...hence the title of my blog.

One place that you could always find me was the record department of WH Smiths in Boscombe.
That shows how times have changed.

In the early days of my holidaying there Boscombe pier had an amusement arcade. Nothing flash, just the kind that you put old pennies into, I'm not sure that many, if any gave any winnings, they probably did something amusing when you parted with your cash but also on certain nights there was roller skating and they played music from records and one night we happened to hear a piece of music we were so taken with we asked what it was. We never managed to find a copy anywhere. It was on an old 78rpm(the B Side)the main hit was Zambezi by Lou Busch and his orchestra on the Capitol label. The other side was called Rainbow's End. We never ever heard it again.

There was no information available from record companies and even looking on the net in recent years has been less than fruitful. One day perhaps over fifteen years ago at a jumble sale perhaps(I forget)I found a copy on an old 78rpm record. Well, I am one step nearer to hearing it except I no longer posses a turntable and few seem to offer that speed anymore.

Should I buy one for the sake of hearing that tune one last time? Will it be as I remember it all those years ago?

Time will tell...

A footnote...since writing the above I have found what looks like a new site with lots of information about Earth And Fire, its a Dutch site but the link below is in English.

Earth And Fire

And thanks to the net I found somewhere to hear part of Rainbow's End. Remarkably as it played I could remember it. It also seemed a little strange listening as it was one that my Father liked and probably only heard a couple of times back then(who is no longer here)and so much time has passed by.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Songs that you hate...

There is always a danger with any survey that you wonder how they come up with the results. So many varients and with anything that is based on music, films or books...its going to be so personal. It depends on whether the public is questioned or it is the opinion of a staff writer at a magazine or published because there is little happening so its just to fill a few pages.

I have not the chance to look if the list was longer because I am sure some other gems must be included.

Are these judged on how you react if you hear them played on radio? That you have them in your record collection?(but would not admit it)Its the memories that they bring back? Or that you like to belt one of them out if there is a karioke or talent show taking place?

Here's the list:
1. ELO - Livin' Thing
2. Boston - More Than A Feeling
3. S Club 7 - Don't Stop Movin'
4. 10cc - I'm Not In Love
5. Gary Glitter - Rock'n'Roll Part 2
6. Foreigner - Cold As Ice
7. Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
8. Status Quo - Whatever You Want
9. Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
10. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
Source: Q Magazine

One record that I am surprised not to see included is one I have to admit that I cannot stand, Chris De Burgh's Lady In Red but the difference is...I don't secretly like it...I hate it!

Don't get me wrong, I sometimes dislike songs that I am told that I should like or are deemed as classics by music experts(how do you become an expert?)that tell you its great or by the sales figures. Look at some of the songs that made it to Number One and some that did not top the chart. I know its personal but some really great songs that you think reached the top slot probably failed and some that did are really awful.

By admitting the following I can expect some of you stepping back in amazement and shock...but here goes...

I hate Imagine by John Lennon.

There I have said it!

I dislike Memories from Cats.

The same with the title song from Phantom Of The Opera.

How about Seasons In The Sun By Terry Jacks?

Or Honey and Summer The First Time by Bobby Goldsboro'?

Or You're Having My Baby by Paul Anka?

You know the trouble is once you start such a list you could go on and on...Really it cannot be done...you'll have your own favourites to nominate for your list of the worst songs.

And having had a few days to think about this and come back to it...I have missed one song out that I am surprised was not first on my list above the examples...

You're Beautiful by James Blunt.

A cheesy song that might fall into a list of songs that I may secretly enjoy and may be as bad as any in a survey like this would be Laughter In The Rain by Neil Sedaka.

You have also have to decide if a song is bad because it was issued deliberately knowing it really is or written as a genuine song but then gains the reputation of being rubbish.

I love music and have a broad church...I can go across many genres and across the decades(centuries even)but I won't be told what to like, if I like it, that's good enough for me. I am still discovering pieces that are new to me. And somewhere in the back of my mind I am sure that I have some pieces of music that I love and that you will hate just as much or you could ask of me why on earth do you like that? I am not saying that I could give you a reason.

Some tunes can come on the radio and I do not feel the urge to switch it off they can play in the background even if I am not keen on them. But those mentioned above could have me reaching for the off button.

And then there are the annoying pieces of music that really are as bad as mentioned in the list that started this entry and yet you whistle or sing along with them though you know that you probably shouldn't or it gets into your head and it takes ages to get it back out.

And here's one of those songs...The Laughing Policeman by Charles Penrose. ;-)

If you get the chance to read up about him and how the song came about its quite interesting. You'll notice that I did not go for the obvious such as The Birdie Song by The Tweets but I remember having a single with tree tracks on it(issued on a European lable by EMI)by what I assume was a group of session muscians who went under the name Cash And Carry and I believe their record was the original.

Can I also admit that I quite enjoy hearing instrumentals of popular songs but very few outlets exist for hearing anything other than music that is sung. Sky's Music Choice had a great channel playing Henry Mancini, Peter Nero, Ray Coniff, Percy Faith, Sergio Mendes and vocalists like Sinatra, Bennett, Damone, Fitzgerald etc but not always the same songs that Radio 2 would play and Radio 2 tends to stick to a playlist that you can hear most places unless you get to the evening specialist programmes and documentaries. They tend to tell you of great artists who played their part in music history but then do not play them on the station.

What was good about that channel was that they gave such a wide range of this type of music so I am hopeful that when I go broadband I can find such a station to fill my needs.