Thursday, November 27, 2008

Iris Wildthyme and the Celestial Omnibus

You know how it is. Your favourite book series goes belly up or starts printing books that just aren't as good as they used to be. You're stuck re-reading The Also People and The Blue Angel and - good as those two books are - moaning to people that everything's a bit rubbish now.

So it was that, with the various Who books lines either disappearing or printing books aimed at a younger audience, we - that's Paul Magrs and I - decided that this would be a great time to launch a new more adult oriented Who-related fiction imprint, publishing officially licensed Iris Wildthyme books.

Everything's a little bit hush-hush at the moment, but the first book is going to be a short story collection entitled

'Iris Wildthyme and the Celestial Omnibus'

and will be published late next Spring. We're keeping authors names under our hats (there will be a story from Paul obviously) but expect lots of Who fiction luminaries to be announced over the coming few weeks

The aim is to use any profit from the short story collection to kick-off a series of twice yearly Iris novellas. The books will only be available in a limited, numbered and autographed run. Don't worry though - they definitely won't be wildly expensive. Books are for reading not hiding in display cabinets.

One thing we can announce is that June Hudson, utterly legendary Who costume designer and the brains behind the famous season 18 costumes amongst many other things, has kindly agreed to do the cover art, about which we're both totally chuffed.

Further information will appear on obversebooks.co.uk, where you can currently sign up for our mailing list and so keep abreast of upcoming news...

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Audio Returns

Now this is what I call a mother lode of returned telly - or, to be accurate, off air audio recordings of old telly. I'm not entirely convinced all of this is missing, but I know a geat deal of it and as this only covers tapes for a year or so in the late sixties, and there are many, many more tapes to be checked, this could turn out to be one of the most significant finds ever.

Collected by Paul Vanezis from an old radio enthusiast, the most important find for me is an off air audio copy of the missing Dads Army episode 'A Stripe for Fraser', but the rest are all important recordings (and equally hopefully there's more to come from this massive collection).

Now, someone just needs to get them out on disc or on the radio (although given that the recovered audios of Ace of Wands didn't even make the dvd box set, I'm not overly confident)

Dads Army
Up until now this has only been available as one of the full cast re-recordings for the Dads' Army radio show.

29/03/69 A Stripe for Fraser

Not Only...But Also
The February show is held in the archives missing some sections. The March show has until now been lost entirely.

18/02/70
18/03/70

'Til Death Us Do Part
Some of these are presumably repeats - for instance there was no first-run episode of 'Til Death of 27 December 1967, and the episode 'State Visit' was originally shown in February of that year.

23/01/67 Caviar On The Dole
06/02/67 A Wapping Mythology
13/02/67 In Sickness And In Health
27/12/67
29/07/67 State Visit
05/08/67 Bulldog Breed
Talkback - Till Death (14/01/68)
26/01/68 The Funeral
02/02/68 Football
09/02/68 The Puppy
28/12/68 Monopoly

Q5
24/03/69
28/04/69
05/05/69

Do Not Adjust Your Set
14/09/66 - Do Not Adjust Your Set There's a Fault in the Programme - Recorded from the ABC in Australia
11/01/68 - #2
26/02/69 - #15
12/03/69 - #17
19/03/69 - #18
30/04/69 - #24
14/05/69 - #26

Horne a Plenty
13/11/68

Harry Worth
02/04/67
14/05/67
28/05/67
04/06/67
23/04/69
30/04/69
19/11/69
02/12/69
09/12/69
16/12/69

At Last...the 1948 Show
The missing episodes of these shows already exist as off-air recordings, but hopefully these are better quality and particularly the recording of 26 September 1967 contains the scene from the beginning which is missing from the - until now - only recording of the show. The recordings from April and May 1967 are presumably repeats of the first series, which finished in March of that year.

25/04/67
02/05/67
09/05/67
16/05/67
26/09/67
03/10/67
10/10/67
24/10/67
31/10/67

Oh Brother!
13/09/68 - The Voice of the Turtle
18/10/68 - Treasures on Earth
18/04/69 - Thine House in Order
25/04/69 - A Mother in Israel
02/05/69 - Behold This Dreamer
09/05/69 - An Uncertain Sound
16/05/69 - In The Beginning
27/08/69 - Root of All Evil
16/01/70 - A Still Small Voice
23/01/70 - By The Fleshpots
30/01/70 - The Laughter of a Fool
13/02/70 - The Hand of Esau
27/02/70 - The Fullness of his Days

The Frost Report
20/04/67 - The Army
27/04/67 - Advertising
04/05/67 - Parliament & Politicians
18/05/67 - Industry
25/05/67 - Culture
01/06/67 - Transport
09/06/67 - Crime
??/??/?? - Europe
29/06/67 - Showbusiness
17/03/67 - Youth
31/03/67 - Countryside

The Rolf Harris Show
Larger Than Life

Comedy Playhouse
Spanner in the Works
The Chars
House in a Tree 25/06/67
Heirs on a Shoestring 09/06/67
To Lucifer a Son (with Jimmy Tarbuck)
Tooth and Claw
The Lovers 12/05/69
The Making of Peregrine 19/05/69
Joint Account 18/12/69
Keep 'Em Rolling 11/03/1970
Better Than A Man 18/03/1970
Mind Your Own Business 08/07/1970

The Galton and Simpson Playhouse
26/04/69 - Friends in High Places
04/05/69 - Never Talk to Strangers
17/05/69 - Pity Poor Edie, Married to Him
21/11/69 - ??

Top of the Pops
15/06/67
13/07/67
05/10/67
25/12/68
26/12/68
20/03/69
03/04/69
10/04/69
24/04/69
01/05/69
08/05/69
29/05/69
11/09/69
13/11/69
18/12/69
26/12/69
18/02/70
19/03/70

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Unexpectedly Creepy

How creepy are the lyrics to Bucks Fizz's Land of Make Believe, when divorced from the infectiously annoying tune? Time for that guy who did 'Mad World' on piano to record a follow-up?

Stars in your eyes, little one
Where do you go to dream
To a place, we all know
The land of make believe

Shadows, tapping at your window
Ghostly voices whisper will you come and play
Not for all the tea in China
Or the corn in Carolina
Never, never ever
They're running after you babe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Something nasty in your garden's waiting
Patiently, till it can have your heart
Try to go but it won't let you
Don't you know it's out to get you running
Keep on running
They're running after you babe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Your world is turning
From night to day
Your dream is burning far, far away

Into the blue
You and I
To the circus in the sky
Captain Kids
On the sand
With the treasure close at hand
In the land of make believe

In the land of make believe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

I've got a friend who comes to tea
And no-one else can see but me
He came today
But had to go
To visit you
You never know

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Monday, November 17, 2008

AlbumsOneBowie: David Bowie (1967)

Being a fan of all periods of David Bowie should be a real problem, you'd be forgiven for thinking.

After all, the man is better known than any other artist in music for constant re-invention. The word 'chameleon' is defined in the OED as, in part, 'pertaining to David Bowie'.*

This problem is particularly apparent when listening to Bowie's first studio album, the eponymous 'David Bowie'.**

It really is a struggle to come up with another artist who made such a massive sea-change in direction - in Bowie's case from whimsical, English music hall to sex-obsessed Glam Rock - in so short a period of time. Consequently, Bowie's brief early years do contain whole albums which seem hard to place in a logical, consistent and organic timeline.

David Buckley described this record as "the vinyl equivalent of the madwoman in the attic" and while that probably suggests a greater degree of sound and fury than is merited, Gus Dudgeon's claim that it was the 'weirdest thing Deram had ever put out" seems closer to the mark.

It certainly stands out even in the Summer of Love, eschewing the sort of hippy love and peace concerns suggested by the faintly psychedelic cover font in favour of a succession of mini-stories, flavoured by vaudeville and music hall rather than drugs and free love (the drug and, well, gang obsessed 'Join the Gang' is the odd track out in this respect).

Because of this, any search for musical fellow travellers for David Bowie leads only to individual songs rather than actual sustained work: bits and pieces of the Beatles output (most obviously John Lennon's 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite'), occasional Kinks' tracks and obscure British psych acts like The Blossom Toes.

The Beatles more whimsical moments are, in fact, the closest popular match for these early Bowie tracks. Utilising brass and strings, recording tracks with odd timings ('Maid of Bond Street' is in waltz time, for example), and injecting humour via the spoken word and 'funny' voices ('Please Mr Gravedigger' in particular) are all elements which have a mirror in Yellow Submarine/Pepper-era Beatles.

That the Beatles' tracks generally work far better is a sign that Bowie was as yet an emerging artist, still finding his musical feet and searching for a voice of his own, but there are things to admire in this first, uneven recording.

Most obviously, it is possible to trace certain of the themes which Bowie embraced right up until the early 80s in this very early and atypical work. 'She's Got Medals' deals with cross-dressing and trans-gender issues, 'Uncle Arthur', 'Maid of Bond Street' and 'Little Bombardier' address unusual, possibly illicitly sexual, relationships and 'We Are Hungry Men' concerns itself with a dictator/Big Brother/messiah figure attempting to save a future dystopian society.

Of the two other primary thematic threads on the album, however, one is quickly discarded by Bowie after this album and never shows up explicitly in the future, whilst the other remains a staple only briefly and very rarely appears in later recordings.

The soon to be discarded theme of the effect of recent wars is evident in 'We are the Hungry Men' ('Achtung, achtung, these are your orders') and 'Little Bombardier' ('War made him a soldier...Peace left him a loser'), and even a throw-away like 'Rubber Band' (with its petulant and painful spoken 'I hope you break your baton' final line) slips a reference to the First World War into its music hall pastiche. War remains a potential lyrical source for future Bowie, but never quite so specifically.

The themes of innocence and the positive elements of childishness, however, are very pronounced on David Bowie and are also the areas in which Bowie moves furthest away from the straight music hall and in the direction of the Syd Barrett/Gong style nursery rhymes which made up another strand of very British psychedelia.

'When I Live my Dream', 'There is a Happy Land' and 'Silly Boy Blue' set the template for a fair portion of Bowie's songs before he embraces 'rock' with The Man Who Sold the World. Swooping strings and overblown and fantastic lyrics (reincarnation, slaying dragons and a 'special place in the rhubarb fields' all on one album!) combine with fears that the real world is threatening our innocence, and push this specific strand of Bowie into the realms of the quainter fringes of the hippy counter-culture.

Fortunately, Bowie redeems himself by his ability to engender real emotional impact from what seem at surface level to be trite place-holder tracks. Later on, the theme of childhood threatened would lead to the subtly despairing 'When I'm Five', while straight-forward romanticism would reach it's peak in the beautiful 'In the Heat of the Morning' (though it's possible to see echoes of this approach as late as the 'Absolute Beginners' single in 1986).

In the end, there are enough areas of overlap between this album and later Bowie works to appeal to the die-hard fan. Putting those people to one side, however, and this is one Bowie record which is, at best, a curio and an example of an era rather than of an artist coming into his own.

That Bowie had discarded all music hall elements by the time he recorded his next album, Space Oddity shows that he too recognised that this approach was not one on which to build a career.

Side one

  1. "Uncle Arthur" – 2:07
  2. "Sell Me a Coat" – 2:58
  3. "Rubber Band" – 2:17
  4. "Love You Till Tuesday" – 3:09
  5. "There Is a Happy Land" – 3:11
  6. "We Are Hungry Men" – 2:58
  7. "When I Live My Dream" – 3:22

Side two

  1. "Little Bombardier" – 3:24
  2. "Silly Boy Blue" – 4:36
  3. "Come and Buy My Toys" – 2:07
  4. "Join the Gang" – 2:17
  5. "She's Got Medals" – 2:23
  6. "Maid of Bond Street" – 1:43
  7. "Please Mr. Gravedigger" – 2:35
* Not really, but it bloody should be
** I'll be ignoring those early RnB singles with the Lower Third, Manish Boys etc that are forever being repackaged and re-released on cd, and so should you.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Passing Thought of Little Interest 4

The track 'Slip Away' from David Bowie's Heathen album should really have been the third of his songs about Major Tom, after Space Oddity and Ashes to Ashes and instead of the pretty poor Hello Spaceboy.

Just switch Uncle Floyd for Major Tom in the chorus and the lyric fits perfectly - wonder if that was the original intention?

Don't forget
to keep your head warm
Twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd
Watching all the world
and war torn
How I wonder where you are
Oo-o
Sailing over
Coney Island
Twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd
We were dumb
but you were fun, boy
How I wonder where you are
Oo-o

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

More Comparing and Contrasting

Have a look at these two Wikipedia pages relating to current Hearts' manager, Csaba Lazlo - and as you decide which is the truthful one, note the level of citation in each.

Hearts' fans sold another puppy, anyone?

Csaba Lazlo's Wikipedia Page Today

After his appointment as a Head Coach of Uganda, they missed out on qualification for the African Cup of Nations in Ghana 2008 on goal difference in favour of Sudan. Unfortunately, he was unable significantly to improve Uganda's FIFA Ranking, which rose from 99 when he joined to 97 when he left in 2008. 1

He was also accused him of "fail[ing] to oversee the creation of under-age teams to feed the senior side"[2] and "not watching the local league and repeatedly frown[ing] at the idea of putting up youth structures to unearth the next Ibrahim Sekagya"[3]

Uganda beat arch-rivals Nigeria for the first time in football history and in December 2007, they finished third in the CECAFA Cup. However, they also underwent their longest run without an away victory for seven years, and lost to Lesotho, Niger, Benin (a loss described as a "humiliation" and "inexcusable")[4] and Tanzania (a "lame-duck display" according to the Ugandan press)[5].


Csaba Lazlo's Wiki Page just after his appointment by Hearts

His appointment as a Head Coach of Uganda was an incredible boost for the East African nation.[citation needed] After his arrival, they went on their best run in 24 years[citation needed]; missing out on qualification for the African Cup of Nations in Ghana 2008 on goal differnence in favour of Sudan[citation needed] and jumped from 167th to 91st in the FIFA World Rankings.[citation needed] He also helped the development of Ugandan players Noah Babadi Kasule, David Obua and Ibrahim Sekagya[citation needed].

Uganda beat arch-rivals Nigeria for the first time in football history[citation needed] and in December 2007, they finished third in the CECAFA Cup[citation needed]. Thanks to his charisma and hard work,[citation needed] FUFA (Uganda FA) signed a 1 million USD sponsorship deal[citation needed] with African mobile telephone giants MTN and African giants Satellite Television channel GTV signed a 5 years contract to broadcast the league games of the Ugandan football league[citation needed]. In 2008 Csaba László became the only foreign trainer who has been able to remain as a national team coach of a African side for over two years.[citation needed] He became a cult hero in Uganda;[citation needed] he has been nicknamed "The Miracle Man" by the African press.[citation needed]

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