This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Friday 23rd January
Despite a dismal turnout and a ghastly shred guitarist that led his pick-up band I really enjoyed watching Phil Lewis last nite at the Underworld in Camden. During the build-up I'd heard whispers that Lewis' former band-mates Bernie Tormé and Chris Heilmann would be in attendance, along with ex-Girl guitarist Gerry Laffy, and had hoped for a little jamming. Sadly, it didn't happen. Heilmann turned up, though, as did Cosmo from the Heavy Metal Kids, whose 'She's No Angel' brought the 75-minute show to a rousing close (Lewis briefly fronted the HMK back in 2011).
A 75-minute display lent heavily on the best-known L.A. Guns albums, and although it would be a stretch to call myself a big L.A. Guns fan, the likes of 'Never Enough', 'Over The Edge', 'Kiss My Love Goodbye', 'Rip And Tear', 'Showdown (Riot On Sunset)' and 'The Ballad Of Jayne' all sounded much, much better than I remembered them.
Introducing 'My Number', the second of two Girl songs ('Hollywood Tease' having begun proceedings), Lewis laughingly informed us that in their review of said song, the Irish Times had described his voice as "a cross between Cliff Richard and Johnny Rotten" – the reference to Sir Cliff proved somewhat apt as he still has fine set of pipes and continues to look the part, his swaggering cockiness unmistakable. It was a fun night, and I was glad that I went. Next time he tours, however, Lewis really should consider better ways of informing his fans than a belated posting on Facebook. Even sending the details of the dates by carrier pigeon would represent improvement… haha!
[Edit: After seeing my enthusiastic on FB, Lewis wrote back: "I had a blast, it was a mad six in a row dash around the UK with a band I never met until the first show at Yardbirds, but I had a blast anyway. Kinda like the old Girl days – short sleep and sandwiches stuffed in the van for countless hours, crap hotels. I loved it."]
Thursday 22nd January
I'm plastered with sweat after an exercise bike workout to 'Spirit On A Mission', the newie from Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock. It's as agreeable a slice of UFO/Scorps/Rainbow/Purps and Whitesnake-flavoured hard rock as you'll hear in a while.
The afternoon was filled by transcribing interviews with Randy Rand and Simon Daniels, the bass player and singer/guitarist of veteran melodic hard rockers Autograph, and also Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders, whose new album 'The Killer Instinct' gets the thumbs up from yours truly. Check it out in a month's time.
Wednesday 21st January
It's always great to interview Rob Halford, this time about the expanded 30th anniversary edition of Judas Priest's 'Defenders Of The Faith'. When I asked about the rapid fire tongue twisting lines in 'Freewheel Burning' the Metal God chuckled: "Let's see if I can do them without the teleprompter – it's lucky I've still got all my own teeth" and gave an impromptu rendition:
"Look before you leap has never been the way we keep
"Our road is free
"Charging to the top and never give in never stops the way to be
"Hold on to the lead with all your will and concede
"You'll find there's life with victory on high"
That's just superb!
Tuesday 20th January
Just back from a wonderfully entertaining and warm night at a sold out Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon honouring long serving CPFC custodian Julian Speroni in his testimonial year. The word 'legend' is over used in sport but Julian will always be a hero at Selhurst. The feeling is mutual, too, and some of the biggest cheers erupted when Speroni announced that if his son wants to be a goalie when he grows up, there's only one club he'll be allowed to play for. Niiiiiiiiiiice! Jules is a massive fan of rock music – when asked what else he might've done with his life he smiled and admitted that his dream was always to be a rock star! – and it was great to hear Metallica, Thunder, Dream Theater, Alter Bridge and Whitesnake played over the PA during the course of the evening, dry ice complementing the choice of red 'n' blue stage lighting. It felt just like being at Wembley Arena!
Monday 19th January
It looks like I've got just one gig this week – Philip Lewis @ the Underworld on Thursday nite. I was never the biggest L.A. Guns fan, but it would be great to hear him reel out some vintage Girl material, such as this little beaut from the band's 1980 debut, 'Sheer Greed'. I saw Girl several times back in the day, opening for Kiss at Wembley in 1980, as support on a couple of UFO tours and as headliners at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street. Lewis was also one of the first rock musos I interview for a very early fanzine – it would have been at the time of their second LP, 'Wasted Youth'.
Though I couldn't claim to be too surprised, I'm disappointed that Nazareth have parted company with Dan McCafferty's replacement Linton Osborne. "I am no longer a member of Nazareth. It didn't work out," Osborne says via Facebook. I saw the Linton-fronted line-up several months ago and it left me with decidedly mixed feelings (see Diary, Nov 15, 2014). Though it pains me to admit, it's hard to know where they could go from here.
Sunday 18th January
Christ, how shit are Hull? Eddie and I watched their game against Wet Sham hoping for a Hammers victory that would complete a dream sequence against teams in the bottom half of the table (Aston Vanilla, Scumderland, Leicester and QP-Haha had already lost). The result was a fairly comfortable 3-0 that leaves the Tigers rooted in the drop zone and without a goal in ten of their last 15 matches. 33 points from the past 38 games – relegation form. Take that, Flatnose Bruce!
Saturday 17th January
I'm loving Match Of The Day tonite. House rule: every time Crystal Palace score we must have a Sambuca.
Arnie (wrinkling nose): "This stuff is disgusting How on earth do you drink it?"
Me: "So you don't want any more?"
Arn: "I didn't say that."
Hahaha! I love my kids! Yeah, what a game… celebrations ensued after Palace came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the home of relegation rivals Burnley. Two more goals for Dwight Gayle (that's four in the last three games) and the Eagles soar to 12th in the table. The Pardew Factor – believe it!!
Friday 16th January
My relief at the signing off of the end of year accounts and winding up the last issue of Classic Rock is tempered by disappointment of the demise of Glenn Hughes' latest act, California Breed. I really liked the band's album but never actually got to see them live. Some accounts suggest that their appearance at December's Planet Rockstock was a real car crash experience… it sounds like the damage was irreparable by that point.
Brrrrrr! I'm just back from a c-c-c-c-chili park run to find the postie has left expanded re-fuckin'-issues of The Almighty's first two albums. It could be time to give them a blast over a Bovril in my favourite 'we beat the Scum in the play-offs' mug. The re-master of 1989's 'Blood Fire & Love' is now a hefty three-disc set and my CR buddy Malcolm Dome has done a fine, detailed job of their respective sleeve essays, quizzing not only various group members but their producers (John Cornfield and Duran Duran's Andy Taylor, the latter of whom oversaw 1991's 'Soul Destruction') and record label associates for the booklets. The mental image of the band actually setting fire to Cornfield, who they felt was "far too chilled out for his own good", is a pretty enduring one!
Thursday 15th January
For reasons I fail to comprehend, many of my friends on Facebook have been generating a few laughs through the posting of their first profile photograph. Here's mine – taken in front of the White House during a trip to the States for RAW magazine with the Krishnacore band Shelter way back in the 1990s. Frontman Ray Cappo and company had just signed to Roadrunner for their 'Mantra' album at the time. Photographer Tony Woolliscroft and I got to see them at the legendary DC hardcore club 9:30, and they were so good that I also bought another of their vinyl LPs, 'Attaining The Supreme', during our stay in the city. Great memories!
Okay, I was wrong – I retract all earlier criticism of Dee Snider's autobiography. It's becoming a really good read now that things have picked up speed. I've just reached the part in which Pete Way, who produces the band's debut record, 'Under The Blade'. Snider relates the tale of Pete taking an internal flight to NY from somewhere in America on tour with UFO to the Big Apple to check out a gig before agreeing to take the job, disembarking the plane "a drink in one hand and wearing a pair of jeans and sneakers… and that's it. No carry-on, no luggage, I'm not even sure he had a wallet." Brilliant! He adds: "I can only describe him as a rock 'n' roll version of Dudley Moore's character Arthur, but without the money. It's not that Pete was poor; he just never seemed to have any actual money on him and was always looking to cash a dog-eared cheque he carried around that his wife had given him." So, so true…
Wednesday 14th January
I'll keep it brief as Classic Rock is on production deadline once again, however yesterday I found the time to conduct a quick phone interview with Alan Nimmo of Scottish blues-rockers King King. I'm a bit of a latecomer with these guys, I confess, but it's impossible to deny the quality of their most recent record, 2013's Standing In The Shadows', and the fact that they picked up five gongs at last year's British Blues Awards speaks volumes. I'll be listening out for a very recently completed new record, which Alan revealed is to be titled 'Reaching For The Light' (it's due on May 5). We spoke of King King's highly evident hard rock roots ("those influences are coming out the more that I mature as a songwriter"), the band's upcoming 18-date tour, Scottish (non-)independence and the mysteries of what might lurk beneath those kilts that the band wear onstage. "Just use your imagination," he replied with a laugh. Er… no, thanks!
Tuesday 13th January
So the rumours are true… Palace have swooped to sign Arsenal's French Under-21 international Yaya Sanogo on loan till the end of the season. The striker has been on the fringes of the Gunners' first team and needs game time – the Eagles are seeking somebody to put the ball in the onion bag. If everything goes to plan, the arrangement should suit both parties. It could be a good signing for Pardew. I've been very impressed by the way Supa Al has carried himself thus far. Very cool and considered, almost in the unflappable manner of his old boss Sir Stevie Coppell... oh, and he hasn't headbutted anyone yet! Hahaha! Anyway… welcome aboard, Monsieur.
The arrival of some songs from FM's forthcoming album, 'Heroes & Villains', and a reviewers' link to Toto's newie, 'Toto XIV' (due March 23, on Frontiers) has only heightened an unusually upbeat mood here at Chateau Ling. What an honour… FM have invited myself and fellow Classic Rock scribe Paul 'Gooner' Elliott to be a part of their infamous backroom song selection team (along with Planet Rock Radio's Paul Anthony). Paul E believes that 'Call On Me' has hit potential. I was bowled over by all of the nine tunes on offer, but the one that reduced me to a quivering jelly-like wreck was the big ballad, 'Incredible'. It's going to be one heck of a record. Oh, and 'Toto XIV' is every bit as good as I'd hoped; there's not a bad track on it. I couldn't stop playing the song 'Chinatown' over and over again… a true gem.
Monday 12th January
A promo CDr of the new UFO album, 'A Conspiracy Of Stars', is here – what a way to start the week! It's due for release via SPV in February, accompanied by a 17-date UK and Irish tour that begins in Norwich in mid-April. To me, UFO have been on a roll since 'You Are Here'. 'ACOS' is cut from the same cloth as the group's last few releases; if you liked those then you'll dig this one...
It's cold outside but there's a warm glow in Catford right now. The postie has presented me with a finished double-CD of Martin Turner & Friends' Garden Party, complete with special guests Ted Turner, Laurie Wisefield and (in a walk-on capacity) Steve 'Lord Lucan' Upton. Just like this fabulous YouTube clip of the show. It brings back great memories of that fantastic day in August 2012.
Sunday 11th January
I'm having a nice chilled out Sunday on the sofa with my youngest son Arnie as the hangover and memory of a fabulous time at Selhurst subside. It's gonna be a Breaking Bad marathon and spicy beef noodles for lunch… gotta say, I've had much, much worse weekends. Hehehe.
Yeah, 'Supa Al' Pardew delivered triumph in his first league game as Palace came from a goal down against Europe-chasing Spurs… quite an achievement considering we way that Mauricio Pochettino's team had trounced Chelski 5-3 on New Year's Day, and also with the handicap of two of the home side's best players – Jedinak and Bolasie – away on international duty. The worst thing about being the late (5.30pm) televised kick off is knowing the results of crucial other games. Second from bottom as the game began, all present in the stadium knew the pressure was ratcheted up on the team from SE25. In stark contrast to his treatment at St James Park, Pards received a hero's welcome as he strode down the touchline. As expected, Spuz dominated possession but the Eagles defended stoutly. Ashamed to say I missed the 49th minute Spurs goal as my friend Kev Denman and I were still in the bar draining the last of our half-time Palace Ales, but from our usual seats in the lower tier of the Holmesdale Road stand we had a perfect view of Dwight Gayle's equalising penalty (pictured) and, with the ground baying for more, also the curled left-footed strike from Jason Puncheon that would eventually seal the victory. A first Prem win in nine games saw Palace climb to 15th in the table. Beer o'clock, and no mistake!
Saturday 10th January
I really enjoyed last nite's Paul Raymond Project gig at the Borderline. It's pretty amazing to think that 'Kipper', as he is known within UFO, has been in the business for a half-century, including stints with Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, the Michael Schenker Group and Waysted. This fact is celebrated with a rather impressive new album called 'Rewind 50' – the reason for a handful of dates that are taking place up and down the country.
The backing band had been tweaked slightly, with frontman Reuben Archer replaced by Andy Dodds and fellow Stampede man Rob Wolverson succeeded by the impressive, Flying V-wielding Dave Burn, though some things never change and just like last time at the Borderline when Archer was struck by a cold, the same misfortune befell Dodds. Neither was the repertoire too different, with material from 2013's PRP release 'Terms And Conditions' retained to form the show's backbone. Its title track and 'Born And Raised On Rock 'N' Roll' are fine, hummable anthems, and it was good to hear them re-work 'Never Trust A Stranger', Kipper-penned ballad that was first heard on the second MSG album back in 1981, and Waysted's 'All Belongs To You' (both are featured on 'Rewind 50'). The inclusion of several off-the-beaten-track UFO numbers such as 'Just Another Suicide', 'Take It Or Leave It' and 'Lettin' Go' served to re-ignite the perennial debate over the 'regular' group's set-list, which in my opinion has been too safe for too long. If we wanted to be super-picky, all but 'Lettin' Go' were also a part of the PRP's previous show. Next time how about throwing in 'Gettin' Ready', 'You Don't Fool Me' or even 'Try Me' instead?
Though most folks in the Borderline were perfectly happy with 'Doctor Doctor' as an encore it's a chewn I'm bored to tears with, and PR's pithy pre-song intro of: "I didn't write this one but I've been playing it for the last 38 years... why should I suffer alone?!" made me chuckle aloud. Despite missing out 'Natural Thing' as a planned second encore with time to spare before the venue's curfew, all in all it turned out to be a rather splendid evening bookended by, ahem… a few too many Crobar libations.
Friday 9th January
So very glad that I bought some new underwear for xmas. Methinks, it will come in very handy indeed on March 23 when the new Toto album, 'Toto XIV', is released. In the current issue of Classic Rock, guitarist Steve Lukather explains that the group's third studio album in 16 years was created in the same spirit of adversity as the all-time classic 'Toto IV' back in 1982, having parted company with their management: "We had to do a really, really great record even if it turns out to be our swansong album." Here's hoping that's not the case as the song snippets heard in this Electronic Press Kit sound God-like.
Anyway, I've just completed my first interview of 2015 – a phoner with Jack Blades of Night Ranger/Revolution Saints and possibly the Damn Yankees ("This year is the 25th anniversary of that band's [self-titled] debut so who knows what might happen?") – and in a short while will head off for the first gig of the year, the Paul Raymond Project at the Borderline... feeling very glad to be back in the saddle again!
Talking of which, here's one newly announced show that I will *deffo* be attending: Queensrÿche, Armored Saint and Death Angel at the Electric Ballroom on August 6. What a bill!
Thursday 8th January
I believe in karma and hate to see anyone lose their job unless they really deserve to, but the news that ITV will not be renewing the contract of commentator/pundit Andy Townsend when it expires in the summer made me smile. Adrian 'Mr Smug' Chiles next for the axe please, and we're golden.
Wednesday 7th January
I'm seriously digging the new album from the Neal Morse Band, 'The Grand Experiment'. Ahead of writing a review for Prog magazine I have been playing it solidly for the last few days. Ex-Spock's Beard frontman/keys player Morse, Transatlantic buddy Mike Portnoy et al went into the studio with zero songs prepared and somehow came away with one heck of an album – how the blazes does that happen?!? Check out the title track here.
Tuesday 6th January
Well, the nights are cold and gigs are somewhat thin on the ground so I'm stacking up on my reading material. At the recommendation of Neil Daniels I've just been onto Amazon and invested in a copy of Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life In Rock, the apparently "jaw-dropping tell-all" (Amazon's words) autobiography of Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy. That'll be up next, as soon as I finish Dee Snider's book which has started a little too squeaky clean for my liking, if I'm honest. Doncha just hate it when an introduction includes the words: "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll – if that's the only thing you're interested in, this ain't the book for you." This morning I also had an email from Coney Hatch's Carl Dixon, offering a copy of his own memoirs. Most kind! Yessir, I'll have some of that…
Monday 5th January
Dover Athletic 0 Crystal Palace 4, the Supa Al era began in earnest yesterday as a potential banana skin was side-stepped in an almost casual manner. The commentary team's jokes about Palace goalie Hennesey's mud-free kit told us everything we needed to know about the gulf in class. Prem vs non-league… these shocks can happen in the FA Cup as everyone knows, but Palace's class prevailed from almost the first kick of the game. Can we have Shiteon @ Selhurst in Round Four please!
Sunday 4th January
Was is it *really* 29 years ago today that we lost Mr Lynott? Here's my all-time fave Thin Lizzy song, the Gorham/Robbo-era line-up playing 'Still In Love With You'. RIP, Philo.
Saturday 3rd January
Please welcome the real 'Sir Alan'. Upon his arrival from Newcastle United, the 53-year-old says he is "absolutely delighted to be the new manager of Crystal Palace FC", and I'm also rather thrilled at the appointment. Pardew hopes to "create some new exciting history for the club", and considering the headlines he spawned by head-butting Hull midfielder David Meyler on the touchline back in March, one thing's for certain... life in SE25 ain't gonna be boring. I say... bring it on!
Well, my cooking must be improving. I've just fed the three of us with spicy enchiladas - admittedly from a kit, but with a few of my own ingredients. Various curse words were shrieked in the kitchen during the meal's preparation ("A greased baking dish... what the f**k's a greased baking dish?!"), but afterwards both lads licked their plates clean and said: "You can definitely do that again, dad!"
Friday 2nd January
Last night was spent in my old stomping ground of the East End - I lived in Leytonstone for eight years - as part of the birthday celebrations of my good friend Harj Kallah. Tasty eats (thanks a lot, Jacques!), plenty of wine and lively conversation combined to produce a wonderful evening. When the time came I almost I had to tear myself away to catch the Dockland's Light Railway back to Lewisham, feeling a bit more tipsy than I should've.
Oh, what a blessed relief. The end of year accounts are *finally* completed. This evening I may have to celebrate with a cheeky bottle of wine. Or two... I don't usually bother with new year's resolutions, but this year I've made a handful of the bleeders. I shall be a bit more selective when it comes to the gigs I attend - it's more important to spend time with the boys. I will go out running every alternate day at the very least. I shall try to drink a little less (match days excepted, obviously). When the weather improves I will spend some time working on the garden. And I will attempt to update this Diary with a little more regularity than I've done of late (ahem... sorry for that!). And talking of which, here are this month's Playlist and YouTube updates.
Thursday 1st January
Happy New Year, one and all.
I'm back at Ling Towers after a bracing park run with Thunder's 'Wonder Days' on the headphones. Following a peaceful NYE spent with my kids in front of the tellybox – this month's Classic Rock cover stars Queen + Adam Lambert get the thumbs up from me – I have dedicated to take a rare day off. The early televised game between Stoke and Manure is up first, and then I'll find a stream for Villa-Palace. The Eagles have yet to confirm the appointment of 'Supa Al' Pardew, but with compensation issues resolved it's rumoured that he will be in the stands watching the game. Just can't be arsed to cook, so ordering a pizza instead. Hey… if I buy one that's massive enough we can have it for our tea as well! COYP!!!
Getting back to the Queen thing, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of bile that spewed forth following the band's televised show. No… of course Lambert isn't Freddie – not even close. But then who could be? However, he has an amazing voice and an electrifying, eye catching stage presence. So what if they have turned to a reality TV star in their twilight years… if you don't like the fact that the group are continuing, just use the 'off' switch. Why the hate??!! Nobody is forcing you to watch, are they? Me? I'm sorely tempted to see whether I can procure a pair of tickets for either of the upcoming O2 Arena gigs, especially as Eddie says that he wouldn't mind accompanying me.
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