Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sheer Ap-Peel

In the last decade the art of being a DJ has changed dramatically. Names like Westwood, Lisa Lashes, Pete Tong and Judge Jules ensured that it was no longer about the music. People flocked, not to hear the music, but to see the DJ. To witness how tunes were mixed and mashed up on the DJ’s whim. While I admire some of these DJ’s for their sheer technical excellence I have never admired their disrespect for the music – how they consider themselves bigger than the artists they play. To me that is not what Djing is about.

When I DJ I hold my hands up and admit that my technical expertise could probably be matched by a four year old, but as far as I’m concerned I’m there to play music – not to show off.

I’m often asked whom I admire as a DJ. Two people always spring to mind – the first being Sir Jimmy Saville. This may shock you but was the first true live DJ. In 1943 he hit up on the idea of playing records live, he was the first person to use two turntables and an amplifier and played records by Glenn Millar and Harry James throughout Mecca Ballrooms nation-wide.

The second person is considered to be one of the UK music scenes most influential people. John Peel. He championed the music and never ever let celebrity take hold of him. He used to kid new Radio One DJ’s that he was the office bin man but secretly they all knew who he was – he was the reason they got into radio. John Peel had no arrogance when it came to music, he realised that all music had potential and he spent his life celebrating any musical sound that deviated slightly from pop. Many Indie bands owe their careers to him but he’d never admit it. In fact he would hate the fact that I’d just written that.

Sadly, yesterday John Peel died suddenly from a heart attack. The UK Music industry has lost one of its biggest assets and UK radio has lost one of its best voices.
John Peel RIP.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Smells Like a Teen Idiot

I haven’t been adding reviews of my DJ gigs lately because they’ve all been pretty normal nights. Until now. Last night I DJ’d a joint 18th for three people. In the week before one of the group had requested plenty of Rock music which I was happy to cater for – it’s good stuff. On the night though it just didn’t get people dancing. I started playing chart – Kelis, Rachel Stevens, Eric Prydz etc and soon people were packing the dance floor.

"Oi, what’s going on – I’ve asked for a rock party." Said the one birthday boy. I explained that it wasn’t getting the atmosphere going and I’d noticed people were leaving so I was trying to balance it out with some chart stuff.

"I don’t care, I’ve asked for rock and it’s my party!" was his snotty response. So I started playing stuff he’d asked for – Rainbow, Kiss, Guns & Roses and yet again the dance floor emptied. People started asking for more chart, Black Eyed Peas, Deep Dish so I put it back on and dance floor filled then once again birthday boy came and complained.

I pointed out that there were two other people celebrating their birthdays at this party and that guests were asking for more dance & chart he was the only one asking for Rock. Sadly he was such a selfish moron he was determined to just have a party for himself and a handful of his friends who were head-banging. His attitude was that of ‘f*ck the 150 or so guests.’
So I played just rock. I admit it was all great stuff and tracks I’d happily listen to but it was completely killing the night so I became bored. Guests left and it was just the moronic head-bangers left. King Tw@t ended the night by smashing up a chair – a bit stupid considering we have his bank details and will now quite happily charge him for the damage he caused.
So one arrogant sh*t ruined and 18th for two other people and eventually ended up ruining it for himself. It was worth it just to see him leg it like a girl when security saw him smashing the chair.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Newsagent Annoyance

WHSmith this week reported more profit warnings. It is a stark time for one of the nations most famous brands with specialist shops like Waterstones, Rymans and HMV wrestling in on its lines. There’s also the threat of online shops such as Amazon and Play.

I used to love WHSmith, before I discovered the (cheaper) joys of online shopping it was where I bought all my music and videos. Now I use it simply as a newsagents although it’s no longer much good as that. Magazines I used to buy have disappeared from it’s shelves. Source, a cocktail and drinking guide I now have to buy online and it also stopped stocking UFO Magazine (which has ceased publication since then anyway.) Now almost every time I visit the magazines are moved around occupying different shelves and a regular monthly merry-go round. Some weeks SFX and Star Trek are tucked away at the back and others their in a completely different area. Edge is often hard to find as is Fortean Times.

So there you Mr W H Smith that is why you’re losing money, it’s because you keep moving the magazines around! Human beings love routine and familiarity. When I walk into a shop I want to know exactly where I’m heading to to buy the product I want. Sadly they’ve lost my custom now, I can pick up the Times in Starbucks and a smaller shop down the road has a fantastic range of magazines which are always in the same shelf space every week!

Monday, October 11, 2004

It’s not 9-5 you know…

At last, after a year of waiting tonight we finally discover if Tom is double agent. Is Harry in on the operation or was it a set up from Christine Dale all along? The last time we saw him Tim Quinn was disappearing into the North Sea with his life destroyed by a secret CIA operation and we’ve had to wait until 9pm tonight to find out if we’ll see him again. Sadly I’m working and have to set the video so please, don’t tell me, don’t spoil the surprise. Please? Thanks!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A Shat Album

Imagine my surprise about three weeks ago when I tuned into Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday club on BBC Radio 2. I heard a fantastic rendition of Pulp’s Common People. Then the following week Chris Moyles played it every day on his breakfast show. It grew on me until I reached the point when I had to get hold of a copy.

So who was the artist behind this five-minute musical delight. None other than William ‘Captain Kirk’ Shatner. In the 1970s he released his own album; The Transformed Man which was, well, a bit of a joke. Tuneless renditions of Beatles hits meant his musical career promptly ended. Anyway this week I wandered into my local Virgin Megastore (which is actually no bigger than your average toilet cubical) and there was his new album "Has Been" on the rack. I knew of the Shatmeister’s musical history and wondered if my love of his version of Common People warranted spending £13.99 but then I saw the list of supporting artists including Ben Fold and Lemon Jelly.

I bought it.

And? I love it. It’s different, it’s even a bit challenging – it’s also brutally honest and while Mr Shatner still can’t carry a tune he does carry some powerful lyrics about the loss of his wife and the loss of contact with his daughter. He challenges the view that he is thought of simply as James T. Kirk arguing he is so much more. He also mourns the fact that he is nearing the end of his life proclaiming in a fantastic blues/gospel track "Live each day like you’re going to die because one day you are."

So go and take a listen to it, I can honestly say I don’t think you’ll regret it. In fact I think I’m going to take another listen right now…

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Grande Caramel Macchiato Please

Coming home from university two years ago was a time of mixed emotions. I was sad to be leaving friends behind, leaving a town that, over three years, had become a second home. Then again I was returning home to old friends and family and familiar surroundings.

There were two things that I would really miss about the town centre at uni. One was the superb HMV store which regularly fed my appetite for new music and DVDs. The other was the coffee-houses. They were a new phenomenon to me when I began uni in 1999 but I grew so fond of them I even ended up buying my own coffee machine. Cheltenham had Starbucks, two Costas an Italian Coffee Co and a Soho Coffee co. Lots of variety and lots of different Mochas.
So for the last two years my irregular visits to Cheltenham or Birmingham have been a blessing – a chance to visit a real coffee house, something Hereford has lacked – until this year.

Imagine my delight when Costa opened it’s door a few months ago. Gorgeous coffee and a gorgeous house! Then, like buses two came along at once. This week the Holy Grail – Starbucks finally got it’s barista's a brewing in Hereford. After two years it was a sheer disappointment. Sure the coffee was gorgeous, that familiar taste I’d missed but the surroundings were awful. The cafĂ© is small and cramped. The tables no bigger than the plastic imitations you fed your teddies tea parties around when you were three. I missed the large airy surroundings of the Cheltenham branch with big comfy sofas and study tables for the next days assignment.

Looks like I’ll be drinking from a paper cup in the future.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

It'll Be Alright On Tape

At last, another compilation of bloopers and gaffs was broadcast on ITV 1 last night. It may be cheap TV but I love It'll Be Alright On The Night and look forward to it every year. But like many I always make sure I deliberately record it so I can fast forward through the painfully unfunny Dennis Norden. When will ITV learn to prise the clipboard from his hand and send him packing. We don't want to see him, we just want the clips! You've Been Framed is the same - who cares about Lisa Riley, we just want to see people falling over and cute kittens doing oh so funny things with door handles and bits of string!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Not Seeing The Woods For The, Well, Tree...

You wouldn’t pay good money for an amateur plumber, you wouldn’t want to visit an amateur doctor and if you discovered it was an amateur pilot flying your plane you’d want to get off. So why do we go and see amateur dramatics? Why not pay a few quid more and go see some dramatics of the professional kind.

Last night I made my second ever visit to my city’s theatre to see an amateur musical. There was hardly any set, some singers missed their queue and others were slightly off key. Parts of it were cringeworthy, parts were mildly amusing but, being an avid hater of musicals (though oddly I enjoy The Little Shop Of Horrors) if I’m 100% honest I didn’t enjoy it. So why did I go I hear you ask? Well because one of my best mates had a part in the production – and it was worth every penny to get a good laugh at his attempt at singing. Suprisingly he played his part really well, a shock considering I never knew he had acting abilities.

So it’s a weird one, I really can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it but I hate sounding so negative about a friends project – especially when he’s been so supportive of some of mine. So if you enjoy ‘am-dram’ or like musicals go check out ‘Into The Woods’ at Hereford Courtyard. But if I’m to be 100% honest, it just wasn’t my bag baby.