Sunday, 17 February 2019

Back to the 1970's


Last night I was in a restaurant when the DJ in the adjoining bar started playing old 1970’s disco hits and as I listened, I started moving my shoulders in time to the beat, to the point where Mrs PM and her dad noticed.

I am quite self-conscious and giggled nervously before trying to change the subject.  Mrs PM smiled knowingly and then told me that 1970’s Disco Music in coming back.

I’ll take her word for that because I don’t listen to the radio stations that she loves. However, it did transport me briefly back to a time when I first began to take notice of music. In 1970 I was 8 years old and my dad had started to allow me to listen to the radio on my own. Thus began my love of music and if you were to look at my collection these days you would be absolutely amazed at the songs and styles that laid the foundation for my current taste.

Back then I was a slave to charts, which were filled with a huge array of different genres  all vying to rule the musical world, from Disco to Pop, from Glam Rock to Punk, SKA to Heavy Metal, from Progressive Rock to Electropop. I embraced all styles in those early days and my collection reflects that, including great bands and artists such as Abba, Electric Light Orchestra, Donna Summer, The Stranglers, Nazareth, The Sweet – the list is endless.

I thought I would share with you a few of the songs that I loved – and still love today. Bear in mind that these songs all contributed to my love of music and whenever I hear them I think of that spotty little bespectacled blond kid struggling with the pressures of childhood, school, puberty and decisions that would shape my life to come.

Stevie Wonder – Superstition



I’m not a huge fan of Stevie Wonder yet there is something about this song that allows it to fit snugly into my musical comfort zone. The bass guitar throughout has me playing along with my own "air” version as I am trying (badly) to dance to this whenever it appears at a wedding or party. This is easily Stevie Wonder’s greatest song.

Suzi Quatro – Can the Can



I was in love with Suzi Quatro. In 1973 when I was a mere 11 years old I remember seeing her on Top of the Pops and being utterly star struck. Here was a woman who was banging out an amazing song and she was gorgeous too. She even appeared in Happy Days as the aptly named Leather Tuscadero. The show had The Fonz and Suzie Quatro together. They were happy days indeed.

Chic – Le Freak



To me, this is the perfect disco song. It has all of the elements that made the 1970’s disco scene what it was, the elements that appealed to me, from the guitar, violins, lyrics and dance moves. Yes, this is another embarrassing dad-dancing wedding song that I have used to humiliate myself on a couple of occasions.

Focus – Sylvia



My current favourite genre of music is Progressive Rock and when I look back there are numerous bands that fall into this category, some of whom were especially big in the 1970s. Bands like Rush and Emerson, Lake and Palmer broke into the charts occasionally. So did Dutch rockers Focus with this masterpiece that I clearly remember from the mid-1970’s. Progressive Rock has been with me my entire music life and this is one of the earliest examples.

The Stranglers – Tank



I was never really that much into punk rock. Some songs were not bad and really I like the way punk rock evolved through the 1980’s and 1990’s. The one exception is The Stranglers who were my favourite punk rock band of the 1970’s before they changed their style in the 1980’s. Tank is the B side of a single I bought and while it is not that famous, it is a beautiful example of the best bits of punk rock.

Moțrhead РOverkill



Okay – there had to be a bit of metal in here to finish off. In the 1970’s I discovered heavy metal and loved numerous bands, any one of which I could have selected as my choice in this genre. Nevertheless, as time has passed, I have become more and more of a fan of early Motörhead and the part they played in shaping modern metal. Overkill is a great example of their early material when the band was at its peak with Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clark and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. I simply love this song.

And finally ...

The 1970’s might not be well liked for political and economic reasons but the music that came from that decade because of the issues shaped the future of music, certainly in my case.


Monday, 21 January 2019

The Pros and Cons of Vampires


I’m fascinated by vampires and have been ever since I was a child. The whole concept of vampirism is terrifying and I have seen and read many examples from the laughable glowing human friendly plastic joke vampires of Twilight to the horrific parasitic shapeshifters of Brian Lumley's Necroscope books; they are not nice creatures at all.

I was recently watching Blade, a movie about a half-man half-vampire whose purpose in life is to turn all vampires to ash and wipe them all out. And I started thinking.

What would I do if I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself in the grip of a ravenous vampire about to turn me into one of his blood-sucking kind?

Would I welcome it with open teeth?

I thought I would try to list the pros and cons of being a vampire – for a bit of fun – and check at the end whether I would try to stake the thing or accept the mutation into a child of the night.

By the way – I am omitting the Twilight vampires from everything I discuss about them because in my opinion they are not vampires – they are imposters.

Let’s start with the cons:

(1) Vampires cannot go out in daylight.

I love the sun and I would really struggle if I had to wake up at dusk and get to bed as the sun rose. I love taking photos of sunrises and sunsets and because vampires burn and fry in the sun, I would probably not live to enjoy the fruits of my vision.

Actually, when I think of it, so do already burn now as a human, so much so that I avoid extreme sun and bask in the shade. My eldest lad’s girlfriend already calls me “The Vampire” because I am “scared” of the sun, which is also highlighted by my extremely pale skin.

Oh and the less said about the twinkling vampires in Twilight, the better.

(2) Vampires live on blood.

I am totally squeamish and hate the sight of blood. I look away in movies when blood appears in the scene, whether it is because somebody has been shot or a poor unfortunate has had his throat ripped out by an over-zealous vampire. The thought of having to drink blood fills me with dread. I would probably faint and starve.

(3) Vampires are evil.

Traditional vampires are considered evil because they either turn people into vampires or murder them to feed. Worse, they are considered to be satanic and can be burned by a cross or holy water. I think I’m a nice guy so I wouldn’t like to be hunted for being a godless creature.

(4) Vampires sleep in coffins.

I don’t like coffins at all and the thought of having to sleep in one fills me with claustrophobic dread. I like my comfortable bed too much. Moreover, you have to sleep with the coffin lid down for safety and I tend to wake up periodically so I would repeatedly end up bashing my brains in during the day.

(5) Vampires are allergic to silver and garlic.

I love garlic. I think it adds that certain something to a meal.  Having said that, as a vampire, I wouldn’t be able to eat food anyway so perhaps that is not such a bad thing. I do wonder whether a vampire could be injured if he inadvertently nibbled on the blood of a person who had just eaten a garlic infused meal. I don’t really care about silver to be honest.

And now the pros (yes there are pros).

(1) Vampires go out at night.

I love going out at night but usually for a meal and a beer or two and, of course, vampires cannot consume either of these two things. Still, there would be nothing stopping me from going into a night club or something like that as long as I could get an invitation. Apparently vampires can’t enter a building unless somebody invites them in; I guess you could use hypnosis though (see later).

(2) Vampires are immortal.

This is the most appealing feature of vampires. Once converted, you end up looking as you do at the moment for the rest of eternity and as long as there are no Van Helsings or Blades around trying to stab you with a stake then you can enjoy an amazing life. Knowing my luck, a vampire would attack me on the eve of my 80th birthday so I end up looking like a grizzled old man for the rest of time.

(3) Vampires are sexy.



There is something deeply sexual about vampires, which is a little bit of a paradox, considering that humans are the source of their food. Vampires have a kind of hypnotic power over humans, enthralling them as a lover might enthral their partner. I would definitely love to be hypnotist.

(4) Vampires are powerful.

In all of the movies and books I have seen, vampires are incredibly powerful creatures, much more so than your average person. They are stronger, faster and have more natural weaponry. If I were a vampire, Piers Morgan might be one of the first people I visited for this reason although the thought of a blood-drinking immortal Piers Morgan rampaging about the country is something I wouldn’t want.

(5) Vampires are shapeshifters.

Vampires can turn themselves into other creatures such as bats and wolves in order to escape or to travel quickly. I would love to be able to shape shift into another creature or, even better, another person. Sadly,I don’t think that’s possible.

The Verdict

All in all, I think I I’m quite happy not being a vampire so I would probably try to use a stake or garlic when confronted by a blood-sucker. I would be tempted by immortality and hypnosis but that would be too big a price to pay if I had to drink blood.

Dracula – please don’t pay me a visit.