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Old News: July - December 2000

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6th July 2000
A surprising variety of events have occurred (or commenced occurring), so let's get it ON shall we?

First of all - i've actually discovered some REVIEWS! Of the ALBUM! Who'd've thought it'd ever happen eh? The first one, which is here is a RAVE REVIEW, which particularly excites me, especially the bit about it being "spun from the purest gold threads" even if it did put me in mind of PISS. Rock from the rhyme urethra INDEED. So that was nice, and then there's this one here which is written in FOREIGN, but still i'm sure it's very good. Oh, and i also saw a review in a shop's catalogue of the Payday Single, wherein it was described as "The usual Hibbett mix of clunking guitars and lyrical gangstaism". Needless to say, this made me VERY HAPPY.

Meanwhile, out in the LIVE ARENA, i went and did a gig in BIRMINGHAM over the weekend, courtesy of Doctor Alan of Bearos, and had a SMASHING TIME. The best bit for me was FINISHING doing my bit, as i was UTTERLY TERRIFIED throughout, which seems to happen these days. Still, seemed to go all right, people liked it and bought some albums, i got paid, we went to a ROCKING PARTY afterwards, saw Saloon and The Regulars (GOOD), and met all manner of people i'd not seen for AGES. The only downside to the whole weekend of JOY was having to go back via Birmingham New Street Station, which is OFFICIALLY the WORST PLACE IN THE COUNTRY. So moved was i that i wrote a BRIEF ESSAY on this subject, which if i remember i'll put in the Writings Section later on.

Other small items of life have revolved around FOOPBALL watching - with crushing inevitability, i was hoping for a Portugal-Netherlands final... it was a FANTASTIC few weeks of SILKY SKILL tho, and even the crapness of our national side has its plus side - now "supporters" of Man Utd or whatever get to see how the rest of us feel. I reckon it must be BORING supporting a team who win all the time and that, you miss out on those glorious days when EITHER you win OR someone displays the tiniest piece of skill. Anyway, have also been wallowing in ROCK, having bought two GRATE records lately, those being the Daphne & Celeste album (GRATE!) and 69 Love Songs (GRATE!). And yes, i bought them on the same day and then ponced around like a twat going "Ooh look at me with my ECLETIC tastes, mmm, yes, aren't i clever?" Fortunately for me there were no PSYCHICS to hear me thinking this, otherwise i would've been THUMPED. Also i can recommend going to the Johnny Domino page, where they've just put up their version of "Forever In Blue Jeans", and of course The Fighting Cocks for "Love Somebody". These i recommend, i thank you.

In FUTURE NEWS - i should be off to Brighton in a couple of weeks, during my HOLIDAY OF ROCK in That London, to do a SESSION, which'll be fun. Also MIGHT be "doing something" at Scalarama in October, and have a variety of POSSIBLE gigs lined up, but none of definite nature. Other than that, i hope to get started on practicing up some new songs, as soon as Certain People in the band get back from sunning themselves in NICE, for free, with free beer, and thousands of GURLS looking at them (NB this is Rob by the way). Not that i'm jealous...
26th July 2000
Here we are then, refreshed and revitalised from my HOLS and ready to ROCK a little. In a modern stylee, of course.

The hols were jolly good, thanks for asking. There was surfing, there was BEER, there was looking at Art, there was FILM, and there was a radio session over in Brighton. This was SMASHING, even tho getting there was a LIVING NIGHTMARE. It was the day of the Queen Mum's birthday parade and, of course, countless bomb alerts. I'd intended to spend the morning wandering around London, then the afternoon in Brighton. The first bit was scuppered by terrorists forcing to me get up late and wait for Neighbours (hem hem), the second was curtailed by having to walk everywhere because of cancelled tubes, being unable to get onto trains to Brighton because they were SO full, then a TWO HOUR journey standing all the way packed into a corner while the doors wouldn't shut because people couldn't fit in the carriage.

It wasn't a lot of fun, and i ended up getting a taxi straight to the studio, doing the session, then getting another taxi straigh back and only just making it in time for the last train! STILL, the actual session itself, with Melita at Cable Radio was a LOT of fun. I did Payday, Where do all the Women Go To, Clubbing In The Week, and It's My Party, _mostly_ quite well too, although the tape seems to consist of one of the Wurzels going "hur hur hur... yeah... hur hur hur". Why does that keep happening?

Upon my eventual return home i found my computer broken, so haven't been able to zap up that thing about New Street yet, but this hasn't stopped the mighty flow of wordage. Oh no - the other night, in fact, i sat down and wrote not one but TWO new songs. One, "Seventeen with a bullet" is OK, but i'm MOST chuffed with the fact that after MONTHS of trying i've FINALLY finished "The Symbol Of Our Nation." It's a bit tossy, but what happened was i bought MOJO (look,i was bored, and Paul McCartney was on the cover, OK?) and there were several articles about Brill Building types and the likes sitting down and just getting on and writing songs until they were written. I decided to do the same, and DID it. It did take until 1.30AM (ROCK animal eh?) to get it all sorted, but it does sound rather groovy. Well,it does to me anyway.

Also rather PLEASING is the FACT that we had a Validators practice last night, and it was REALLY REALLY BLOODY GRATE. The idea was to see if we remembered "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" well enough to record for a single, and by GOLLY we did. Then we had a go at "Graffiti on the Cenotaph", which miraculously changed from a SHOUTING FEST to a rather beautiful kind of GROOVY thing, with FABULOUS rhythmn section action and Tom playing PIZZICATO. YES. I was in fact deeply moved by the whole experience, and was so struck again when we did "World Go Blind", which was VERY VERY LOUD INDEED and had a GRATE bassline. I was quite overcome my dears! In the spirit of excitement, and Rob's SESSION WORK not preventing it, we could be in the studio NEXT WEEK to get them recorded!

Needless to say, i am EXCITED.

Other than that, not much is occurring. The Sporting Glory EP series looks like going ahead (and thus i could be writing a song for it soon also), we might be playing in London next month, and i REALLY want to do some more solo gigs (if anyone's listening out there?), but all this will become clear over the coming weeks. Thanks for listening, and HEY!, stay lucky you beautiful cats.
11th August 2000
We're up and running again with things Actually Happening! Hoorah! Last night, for instance, saw a Return To The Studio. It was meant to be me, Rob, Tim and Tom going in to LAY DOWN the lead track to the next single (or maybe a proper EP?), which, as previously reported, will be "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor." However, Mr Fleay has been STRICKEN with Chickenpox - another one of those diseases that is slightly annoying but gives you a week off school when you're a child, but is HIDEOUS and AWFUL as an adult. Poor old boy, he's really poorly, send him your SYMPATHY.

So anyway, instead of that Tom and I went in and did "A New Hope (BBC2)" instead, and it was a whole lot of fun - to a CLICK TRACK we did lead vocal, violin(s), guitars and... A WHOLE CHOIR OF BACKING VOCALS. Utterly mentally, it has TWELVE backing vocals all the way through singing Three Part Harmony, and it ROCKS. Some Rob vocals, some BASS, and some BREAKBEATS OF TIM to be added at a later date and it will be DONE. THUS i'm all excited about such things again, and will be PUSHING for us all to be back in at the end of the month to finish that one off and complete the original recording plan - watch out for future NEWS next time...

Meanwhile, i did a GIG at the start of the week. It was a short-notice affair at the Bull & Gate, as they'd had lots of cancellations, so i went down and played solo. What a smashing night it was - MORE THAN SEVERAL people came down specifically, and the bands beforehand were on their second/third gig, so had lots of mates there who didn't realise that you're allowed to leave after the band you came to see have finished ... so i came on to Actually Quite A Lot Of People. I sat down, so most other people did, and it was all jolly lovely and laid back. MOST happily i did "Symbol Of Our Nation" for the first time and people afterwards (well, some) pointed to it as being the BEST, and i was HAPPY. Also many other nice things said, from the INADVERTENTLY GLOWING ("You are OUR Billy Bragg"... er... whoever he is) to "You sound like Tim Firth" (explained later as being A Good Thing, so that's OK) and, of course, the traditional "You are really brave."

Unfortunately, all this unusual COMPLIMENTING meant i left a bit late, and had a MAD DASH for the last train home. In this i was AIDED BEYOND REASON by Andrew from The Blue Smarties who, without regard for his own safety, ran WITH ME, despite living in That London. Oh, and the escalators were all bust too, so i LEGGED IT up them all, reached the booking office nearly dead, to see Andrew FLY past, take my guitar, and GO! As i staggered onto the platform i saw him at the train arguing with guards. AS IF IN SLOW MOTION i staggered out and flew across the platform on my face as my knees had finally realised what was going on. I got up, got to the door, thanked Andrew, leapt in with guitar, and off we went. Wait for the movie version, it'll be ACE.

Apart from all that, not much else has occurred, because i have been A Bit Poorly (better now tho, thanks). Also computer still not going, but i truly hope to get it sorted over this weekend, so do look out for some new bits in Writings won't you? It's Abbey Park tomorrow too, and for the first time in YEARS i'm not playing, so look forward to being able to go home when i'm bored, also to DRINK BEER without worrying so much. In the next couple of weeks there's another Fighting Cocks gig to look forward to, maybe our AGM, The Peterborough Beer Festi, and a STAG DO! If i survive such ROCKTASTIC EVENTS there'll be some more things to talk about next time...
24th August 2000
Buckle up and get ready to ROCK (but gently), things have both HAPPENED, and are in the process of HappenING.

Abbey Park fades into memory's distance now, but it was a Good Day Out, not least because all i had to do was turn up and drink BOOZE, which i did. Also, as is tradition, i went on a fairground ride that was MUCH scarier than i had any right to expect, and found the next day that the FEAR had caused my neck to go all stiff. I bet that never happens to Indiana Jones.

Successive plans to get back in the studio have fallen by the wayside, due to The Validators being SO popular with giddy social lives, and piffling things like Major Life Changes and Life Threatening Illnesses getting in the way. Cuh! The vague plan now is to regroup in a few weeks when a) Tim gets back from his HONEYMOON and b) Rob gets back from the US of A. I know, i know, what person in his right mind would choose to GALLAVANT across the GLOBE instead of sitting in a room with me saying "Can you make it more Ginger sounding? With a hint of wire?", but there you go.

HOWEVER, out of this has come a NEW PLAN - at some point soon i shall be reentering the studio ALONE to record a NEW single! AHA! It'll be called "A Church Hall Of Sound (revisited)", because it'll feature 4 songs from my old tape "A Church Hall Of Sound" rerecorded in an acoustical stylee. The four songs will be "Before I Was Cool", "The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)", "Family Wedding 2021" and "Another Man's Laundry", which EAGLE-EYED viewers can read all about from the full songs list.

"BUT WHY?" you doubtless tremble. It is simple - I AM GOING ON TOUR! AHA AGAIN! For years now i've saved 5 days holiday Just In Case I Go On Tour, and this year was no exception. I finally realised that the reason i've never actually done this is because i've never actually organised anything, so now i AM. The tour will take place around October 23-27th, which is OF COURSE half-term round these parts, so that Mr Whitaker can accompany me as (hem hem) TOUR MANAGER. Hopefully i'll stretch it out and do a couple either side of that Golden Week too, so the final dates will include gigs in Dundee, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Reading, Bristol, Brighton, Birmingham, and, of course, That London. Check the Gigs page over the next couple of weeks to find details AS AND WHEN they become true.

"BUT WHERE," you slightly less doubtlessly add, "is the money coming from?" Peasy - i am finally SELLING MY COMICS. It may come as a surprise to those who know me now as a sophisticated bon viveur, but throughout the eighties i bought and ADORED comics. After having them around in various places doing nothing for a decade, i finally decided it was time to try and sell them. Hey, it hurts to see some of them go (although, slightly sadly, rereading has demonstrated how many of them are in reality RUBBISH), but its turning out to be quite good fun. If you really want to see the depths of my adolescent obsession, take a look at my ebay page.

In other news, i had the PLEASURE of going to the Bull & Gate the other night to witness the ROCK MIGHT of the The Fighting Cocks. A SMASHING night was had by all, aided by me being introduced to a Kerrang Journalist and SCARING him by saying "ROCK! THEY ROCK! ROCK! ROOOOCKCCKKK!!". There's actually a wee few rocking nights out ahead, including Twinkie/Clinic tonight, the Peterborough BEER Festival tomorrow, and Johnny Domino and The Chemistry Experiment in the near future. My liver QUIVERS in anticipation.

So stay tuned for more on the above, hopefully some DATES for the TOUR, and who knows, maybe even another REVIEW! LET'S ROCK! ROCK! ROOOOCCCCKKKK!!
11th September 2000
Excuse the SNIFFLES gentle reader, for LO! i have been poorly, also unwell, and so various things haven't really happened. I DID get to see The Chemistry Experiment since last we spoke, for instance, and have a vague memory of insisting that they let me produce their album (and that i would be able to make it in about an hour, no worries, it's peasy), but unfortunately did NOT get to see Johnny Domino, which was a bit of a bugger really. Other than that, much of my time has been spent dealing with Various Family Events that all seemed to happen on the same day, while sitting in the flat feeling sorry for myself. And sneezing.

Aaah, poor old codger eh? Get him a cup of cocoa and a tartan rug... but enough of this, for you come not for my MOANING surely, but for words of ROCK! OK then, let us ROCK - first of all, the NEW SINGLE is now recorded! YASS! As promised last time, it is called "A Church Hall of Sound (revisited)" and features me all on my lonesome doing "Before I Was Cool", "The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)", "Family Wedding 2021" and "Another Man's Laundry (Hanging On Your Line)". These were all recorded and mixed on Friday evening from 8pm-11.30pm, including half an hour to have a BEER and watch Mel get kicked out of Big Brother, which i RECKON is pretty good going. Oh, and it sounds quite good too.

This is all in aid of The Tour, which is progressing less well... we DO have Glasgow and Dundee pretty much booked now, but others are taking more time. They will come, FEAR NOT, and hey, do keep looking at the Gigs Page won't you? Other places to look at are the SONGS LIST, which has a new one on there at the moment and doubtless more to come, also WRITINGS, which FINALLY has that thing about Birmingham New Street that i've been promising to put up for ages.

The only other exciting thing that's happened is that we were on Playlouder Radio about a week ago - is, of course, your one stop shop for all things ROCK , and they have this streaming radio thing of about 10 songs each week, and LO! last week it featured "Hey Hey 16K". Cool huh? It's not there any more, but it was honest.

That's the news now then - upcoming is Tim's wedding (bless), hopefully some more confirmations on the tour, and goodness knows what else. Stay tuned my dears...
25th September 2000
You discover me covered in biro surrounded by bits of paper, as i desperately try to sort out some GIGS. I tell you, it is LESS THAN SIMPLE... after the obvious difficulties (i.e. people not actually WANTING me to come and play their venue), the BRANE is grappling with concepts of DISTANCE, as it has been pointed out to me that day long jaunts from one end of the country to the other may prove dangerous to Mr Whitaker's car. I have
booked a few gigs, but none of them are in the Golden Week of the Tour... hmmm... MOST exciting of these is the one where i get to support Brave Captain, about which i am ALL OF A TIZZY. Ooh! DARE i do my version of Lazarus? Only time will tell.

One reason for increased URGENCY in the booking stakes is the fact that the new single has gone off to the Czechs, already. It must be said, they are suddenly DEAD EFFICIENT, with Proper Forms, VISA capability and artwork accepted by email, which means that it's DEAD EASY to get a single... which only serves, in this case, to highlight my promotional inefficiencies. Oh well, i'm sure something will come up - at present i am ON THE SNIFF after gigs in Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, Glasgow, Sheffield, York, Oxford, and possibly Derby, Middlesborough and Peterborough. NOWHERE is safe. Keep checking the GIGS page anyway, lest a new one SLIP IN while you're not looking.

Meanwhile, in the REAL WORLD, the big news of late was of course the wedding of Miss E Smith and Mr T Pattison. It was BLOODY GRATE - for those who've not been BORED STUPID by me going on about it, the highlights were: a) Music for walking out of the church being THEME FROM STAR WARS b) photographs of everyone used instead of name cards at the meal c) FISH AND CHIPS for starters d) THE SONG. Yes, at last the secret can be revealed - for MONTHS now i have been COOPTED by Emma (now Mrs The Celebrity Drummer) to concoct a SONG - she did the words, i did the music. It's a lovely song of LURVE, which means that the version of ME singing the demo version MUST BE DESTROYED. Anyway, after the speeches she stood up and said "I have something to SAY!" and sang it, to MASSIVE applause and also MUCH TEARS, it was utterly ACE and moving and everything, not to say a RELIEF as i can now speak to Tim FREELY without constantly thinking "Now, is that a line in the song about something I Must Not Know?"

It was a lovely day anyway, only hampered by the FACT that, at 1am, i realised i had danced to every song mentioned in Family Wedding 2021, 21 years early. Urk.

In other news - SCALARAMA's up soon, and guess where i'm playing? Clue: it's the day of the England Germany game... YASS, you intuit intelligently, i'm on at half-time playing "Fair Play Trophy", i'm sure it'll ROCK. Lyrics are going into the programme for singalongability, alongside an article which i'll put up in the writings section... should be a GRATE day out anyway, i'm especially looking forward to seeing Chemistry Experiment and Astrid.

Other things occuring which may be elaborated upon next time include planning the AGM, the AT LAST arrival of the Internet Compilation album, and THE NEW GRATE IDEA - too much of a secret to SPILL yet, but it involves MUSIC, SCOTLAND, and AUDREY HEPBURN. Tune in next time to discover more...
9th October 2000
Since last we were together, all manner of excitement has happened, and been prepared for happening. THE SINGLE, "A Church Hall Of Sound (revisited)" is on its way to me even as we speak, and is released on October 30th, exclusively through Left Legged Pineapple. It was meant to be only sold at gigs, but, kind gentleman that i am, i thought some people from the (many) areas where i'm not playing (and, my dears, i did try) might want to buy it, so pop over to Loughborough's finest independent record store, click on the Artists Against Success section, and buy away!

"Gigs?" you say, "are the gigs all sorted then?" Why, YES, yes they are! After four weeks of ringing innumerable venues and promoters, i've finally got some gigs sorted out in Sheffield, Birmingham, Leicester, London and Nottingham, with the keen possibility of a few more to be added later - full details on the gigs page. I tell you this tho, it was a HUMBLING experience booking them - i sit here at my desk, fielding the occasional email of COMPLIMENTS, and start to think i am Pretty Damn Groovy, but weeks of ringing places and spelling out my name, trying to persuade people that i HAVE had some records out, honest, and being Politely Not Rung Back have CERTAINLY taken me down a peg or too... STILL, these are all GO now, and i reckon they are going to be FUN. All of them will feature just me all on my lonesome, so you can expect a wide variety of The Hits, Album Tracks, New Stuff, "Obscure" songs (NB: that is, even MORE obscure than the others), and hey, maybe even a couple of covers. I'm looking forward to it anyway, and hey, i hope you are too.

Meanwhile, things ACCELERATE suddenly over at AAS, leaving us all with a case of ROCK WHIPLASH. As well as the above platter of joy, we're also releasing the (BLOODY GRATE) new Frankie Machine single on the 23rd, and the week before THAT it's "Now That's What I Call VALID" - the AAS compilation album! Yes, after about TWO YEARS of trying to get it together, we decided to AVOID the perils of finance, and make the first EVER proper online compilation album. You can get it from in ALL it's glory from October 16th (though if you go now you'll find some of it's already there). I must say, it's EXCELLENT - favourites of MINE so far are the Stumble and Johnny Domino tracks - but it does also feature "Mr Right", a track which was originally supposed to go onto "Say It With Words", and indeed made it all the way up to the final tracklisting MEETING, when i, for some reason, turned AGAINST it. Anyway, you can get it from the compilation album, and JUDGE for YOURSELF.

The only other item of NOTE in recent time was SCALARAMA! And OH, it was QUITE A DAY! It got off to an ODD start when i met someone at the station to sell them some of my comics (Deadline, it was, if yr interested). BIZARRELY, it was a GURL who bought it, and one who seemed Quite Normal And Pleasant to boot - what was that all about? The BRANES of all started to BURN OUT when she then amiably DISCUSSED the importance of comics - a GURL? Who reads COMICS?!? Needless to say, we FLED.

Scalarama itself was GRATE, if a little DARKER than last year - whilst watching The Chemistry Experiment, it was noted that That Woman had turned up - for those not in the KNOW, this is a person with whom i had a 12 month relationship a while ago, which ended RATHER unpleasantly - fully annotated version (referencing the relevant SONGS) is available HERE. ANYWAY, being a decent chap i thought i ought really to proffer the Olive Branch, so, saying to Mr Fleay "Better get this over with then..." i tapped her on the shoulder. HOWEVER, before i could say anything she yelped "PISS OFF!" and stormed out - aaah, time has little withered her CHARM. That was a RELIEF anyway, but was just the STARTER.

As regular readers will know, i was scheduled to play "Fair Play Trophy" during the half-time of the football (i'd go for Martin O'Neill, by the way, or being selfish, Barry Fry), and had brought my ACOUSTIC with me to do this very thing. HOWEVER, it turned out that there was no mention AT ALL of me doing this in the programme, and also that the room was actually an OPEN BALCONY, so when i walked on to SING, people just thought i was a RANDOM LOONY - the reknowned cnut, The Architect of Romo, thought it would be HUMOROUS to heckle, and rather delightfully i pointed out that my getting in for free depended on this, and that he could jolly well fuck off. I then LAUNCHED into song, JUST as the band downstairs started, so none could hear ANYTHING i was doing. STILL, i battled on, even having a PLASTIC GLASS lobbed at me, and rather beautifully when it was over the room ERUPTED into CHEERS. This made me HAPPY, and when people afterwards said the usual "You are very brave!" this time i was forced to agree that, yes, I BLOODY WELL AM. Shortly afterwards, friend of The Architect Of Romo came over and was all pleasant, apologising for the heckling. CURSE HIM! as this rather spoilt it and my IRE was TEMPERED. "I read your webpage," he said, "and thought Oh No! This'll all be in there!" AND HE WAS RIGHT.

Ooh, i feel all meta-textual... anyway, the day dissolved into BEER, and at some point Messrs Whitaker, Fleay and I got into a big row with some TWAT who tore up a pile of newsletters, claiming that we Charged Bands to be on the label... nur... the FIBS of last year had, i thought, dissapeared, but obviously not. Like a DRUNKEN POSSE we stalked the building later, looking to FITE him, but handily he was not to be found. After that the BEER started to hit home, and unfortunately i was FAR TOO DRUNK to go over the road as planned to see The Fighting Cocks, which was a shame.

In some ways, i hope the forthcoming TOUR is as eventual. In other ways, i REALLY DON'T.

And that's pretty much that for now. Coming up in the near future, we've got the much delayed AAS AGM on October 16th at the Bless in Derby (do pop along), which should be a LARF. Other than that, i plan to get TRANED UP ready for my Autumn of ROCK - do join me, won't you?
25th October 2000
Pardon the RANCID STENCH OF SWEAT, but i have been in TRAINING - it is a STRICT REGIME of... er... sitting in my kitchen bellowing for often minutes on end, trying to remember the second bit of "Boom Shake The Room". It is paying off bigtime tho, my SONG MUSCLES are toning up nicely, and the Pecs Of Tune are sharpening too, so i'm pretty much ready to get out ON THE ROAD tomorrow for the first gig of THE TOUR, in Sheffield. Actually, the main preparation has been making a sheet of paper (OK, i didn't _make_ the paper, you know what i mean, stop it) with about 40 songs listed, in the categories "New Songs", "Old Songs", "Album Songs", "Single", and "Covers" - EFFICIENT, no? It'll certainly make it easier to do setlists anyway, rather than me scurrying up to strangers saying "What songs do i know? WHAT SONGS?"

I'm planning to do a SORT OF Tour Diary for these gigs too - i've got a SUPER new (cheap) digital camera, which i've finally managed to hook up to my SUPER new computer (Note to self: next time you see a RED BUTTON on the back of a computer, do NOT say "ooh, i wonder what this does?" and switch it over - the answer is "blow your computer up"), so the DIARY may even be ILLUSTRATED. Thrilling eh? I'll link to it here when it's done, and probably from the writings and/or gigs page too.

Due to the sheer levels of physical punishment engendered by the gig training, i've not been out and about too much lately, though when i have my darlings i have made it COUNT. Last week, for example, was the AAS AGM, and it was BLOODY GRATE. We did speeches, cheques and that, then moved onto the new SINGALONG SECTION, which was ACE. Most notable thing about it was how all the KIDS did their own songs, then all the old sods did COVER VERSIONS - see, we knows what people want, we are TROUPERS, and in this case they wanted "I Want To Break Free", "Dancing Queen", "Boom Shake The Room" and "Ziggy Stardust." I also EVINCED how GRATE it was that we are totally NOT COOL AT ALL, and i don't think with a playlist like that there can be any argument eh? Then we went to the Blue Note, and that ROCKED too. It was good.

There's been some ROCKING RELEASING going on too - the Compilation Album Now That's What I Call VALID is online NOW, and it is BLOODY GRATE. As well as MY SONG, there's some ACE stuff by Frankie Machine, Stumble, Chemistry Experiment, Saloon... in fact, ALL the AAS Bands. BEST OF ALL in my considered opinion, there is at LAST a version of The Company Song, sung by all at the AGM, which will quite frankly change your life.

In the real world, this week sees the release of "Cartesian Product EP", which is the new Frankie Machine single, which of course is BLOODY FANTASTIC, and i heartily suggest you GET IT. They're doing some gigs too - look at The Webpage for some info, and GO! Meanwhile, "Church Hall of Sound" is ALSO available, from Left Legged Pineapple NOW, and should eventually be in the shops in a few weeks too. You can get the Frankie single there too, why not go on a SPREE? It will be WORTH IT.

Otherwise, all is PREPARATION, and not just for THE TOUR either - The Validators are BOOKED for a GIG! In February next year! Strangely, this is actually Appropriate Notice the way things are these days - it is the next Pop-A-Go-Go, HOORAH! Also in the future, we have a bit more Validators recording coming up, and MUCH more scarily, November 29th sees the 40th Birthday of Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey. "That's not very scary" you no doubt mumble, but WAIT, for part of the celebrations includes... DAN DAN DDAAAAAR! THE RETURN OF VOON!

And on that bombshell... more of that next time, plus the TOUR ROUND-UP and doubtless a RAFT of Hilarious Anecdotes - why not come along and, hey, be part of it eh?
10th November 2000
Are you ready to ROCK? I said, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?

Do excuse me, it is a hard habit to get out of... phew, what a couple of weeks it has been, ram packed with ROCK POWER as i Actually Went On Tour. It was bloody good fun, in fact i rather surprised myself by how much i enjoyed the regular and continuous nature of it all. My dears, it was a kind of mini-Hamburg for me, and by the end of it i am CONVINCED that, sometimes, i am often Quite Good. And also bloody knackered - why? See for yourself in the HILARIOUSLY titled On The Road (on broken rails), a title which tells you REAMS about the continuing non-ROCK theme of it all. Best bits for me were the bizarre reaction turnaround in London, seeing my brother in brum, seeing Francis Albert in Nottingham, and the almost frightening NATURAL HIGH after it was all over in Derby afterwards.

I could really do with some sleep now though.

Not much else to report really, as most of my time's been taken up with the rockage. The single seems to be going down pretty well with everyone, especially "Family Wedding 2021". There should be a couple of reviews online, at Playlouder and Zeitgeist (I'll stick them on the links page when they're there) though, of course, nothing in the old-fashioned print media. Heaven forbid! You can still get it from Left Legged Pineapple, and, after much umming and aahing about whether to do it or not, it'll be out in the shops in a few weeks too. If you didn't get it at the gigs, HIE yrself there and get it kids, i think it is GOOD.

Also for HIEING action, there's the AAS compilation album all fully online now, and of course totally FREE. As promised last time, the Company Song's now up, and is very much a unique and beautiful thing. Hits seem to be about 10 a day at the moment, so do feel free to increase that, as there's some bloody ACE stuff on there.

Coming up over the next couple of weeks there's all sorts of LARKS. I'm off to the Isle Of Wight next weekend (so unfortunately can't do that all-dayer at the Physio), and the week after sees practicing BOTH for the Validators AND for Voon, ready for recording and A GIG in the week after THAT - i'm looking forward to BOTH i must say, though the VOON gig is TERRIFYING me with the prospect of a) learning the songs again and b) learning the bass again. I shall have to find my silvery shirt too, i guess, and give it a good old clean.

So, it's back to PREP again - i'm also DETERMINED to get some more gigs sorted out - Brighton, Bristol, Derby and Manchester may THINK they have escaped me, but they should be prepared for a second assault on their bookings diaries. And when i get it sorted, dear reader, you shall surely be the first to know.
26th November 2000
You find me on a Sunday afternoon, listening to "69 Love Songs", on a strange subdued HIGH. Subdued because of the BEER that accompanied the HIGH, HIGH because last night, for the first time in three and a half years, i attended a VOON rehearsal.

After spending about two months WORRYING about how it would be, the evening was UTTERLY BRILLIANT. The last time we had a First Practice (4 years ago for the last reunion, after 2 years not playing together) we were all amazed by how GOOD it was, and this time was no different. We spent half an hour trying to make amps and PAs work, then launched into "Found On The Moon", and afterwards the three of us spent five full minutes laughing hysterically and CHEERING, because it was GRATE. We practiced the ten songs we'll be doing, then went out and CELEBRATED. Now, maybe when we actually play in front of people on Wednesday it'll all be RUBBISH, but it doesn't really matter now, as for those 2 hours last night we were, once again, THE BEST BAND EVER. When, we asked, will the world finally be ready for Voon? Look out for the world tour and Glastonbury headline set in 2025...

Meanwhile, in the world of The Validators, MORE regrouping occurred, as on Tuesday we had OUR first practice in ages... OK, six months isn't quite as long, but still. This time it took 90 minutes before we started, as the BOOKING had been misplaced, but once we got going it was a mighty RELIEF to find that the ROCK POWER was still there. We practiced "World Go Blind", "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor", "BBC2" and "Graffiti on the Cenotaph" reading to be recorded in a fortnight's time. I'm still undecided about what to do with them when they're finished - at the moment I'm considering putting them out as a CD SINGLE (oh yes), backed up with some of the still unused tracks from the "Say It With Words" sessions to make a mini-album/maxi-single, but we shall have to see what COSTS are involved. If i can work out how to do it properly you might well see some MP3s on this page before the end of the year too, MODERN eh?

Also of note, "A Church Hall Of Sound (revisited)" HIT the shops this week, not in any great number, but if you want to buy it in person (rather than from Left Legged Pineapple where it's still very much available) you can now do so. The release sort of passed me by really, which gave TWINGES of nostalgia for the days when i'd get excited for a WEEK about a single coming out, and dash down to Rock-A-Boom just to LOOK at it. It reminds me of the first time VOON got a gig at the Charlotte, and we leapt about like crazy mad things with excitement, whereas now it's just something that happens... oh well, it is the PRICE of experience, no?

And that's the news this time around. Coming up over the next fortnight, apart from the Voon gig and Validators recording, I'm off to see Kurt Wagner from Lambchop (wahey!), and should be hassling some people for the next lot of gigs. Come back soon, and find out what happens, why don't you?
10th December 2000
It's been a fortnight of ACTIVITY, so let's get it ON, shall we?

First of all, i bet you're GAGGING to know how the Voon Reunion went, no? It was GRATE, thanks for asking, and also peculiar-feeling to be doing those songs again... especially the bits between the songs, with the old BANTER back on, and indeed most of the same old introductions. It was a whole lot of fun, and i was REMINDED just how DIFFERENT Voon is - LOADS of people there were people i'd got to know since the last reunion, and my dears many of them looked plain SHOCKED at what was going down... it was, shall we say, UNLIKE the stuff they'd seen me doing before. I was ALSO reminded how bloody difficult it is playing Voon Basslines, and golly but my wrist ACHED for days afterwards. A GOOD thing all round though, roll on 2003!

It wasn't all VOON ACTION though, as a couple of days ago the Validators were FINALLY back in the studio. After LAYING DOWN some drums and bass on "BBC2" we recorded basic tracks for "Graffiti on the Cenotaph", "World Go Blind" and "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor", and for once i really enjoyed the actual band recording (usually i feel RUBBISH when doing it, but this time i jumped around a bit and felt much better). Notable events were: doing a SECOND COMPLETE TAKE on a song (which i don't think we've ever done before); failing to get to the end of a song FOUR TIMES, simply because Tim was TOO ROCK for the drumkit; and attempting to get the Validators to do Durham-Ox-STYLE singing, and them trying to do four part harmonies instead. Oh, and then Tom did the DISCO STRINGS on "Solicitor", and looked like he was going to cry because by this time he was worn out. Bless.

I should be in again over the next couple of weeks to do the vocals and more guitar bits, plus with any luck I'll get Rob and Tom in for more vocals, trumpet, strings, and EUPHONIUM. STILL undecided as to what to do with it all when it's done, but most favourable option at the moment is to get all 4 out as an EP in February, hopefully to coincide with some more GIGS, including a FULL BAND affair at Pop-A-Go-Go.

While i'm in overdubbing, i'm going to try and record ANOTHER song, all on my lonesome. This is for the next Sorted compilation, which is going to feature pretty much everyone Dave's ever put out (including, THRILLINGLY, Voon!), and my track will probably be a reworking of "We Must Go Into Europe". It SUMS UP my feelings on the whole "debate" at the moment, and anyway i like the chorus.

In other news - Church Hall of Sound (revisited) has been REORDERED! Yes, it seems that the 60 i sent to the distributors WEREN'T ENOUGH, and The Kids are BAYING for more. OK, i know that selling more than 60 isn't really _that_ impressive, but still, it made me happy. Who knows, maybe this'll be the first single i actually DON'T have mountainous piles of in my attic, wouldn't THAT be something?

Meanwhile, on the website, there's a few new bits - new article in the writings section, and a couple of new songs in the orphanage. Over the hols I'm going to try and sort out a LOT of new(ish) writing bits and bobs, for next year's SECRET PROJECT, more details of which next time. Similarly i've a few GRATE IDEAS bubbling under, to be revealed (if i a) remember to do it and b) remember what they are) in the new year.

Things happening! Who'd've thought it eh? I'm going to try and do another update just before Christmas, so happy shopping in the meantime, and hey, let's be beautiful to each other, yes?
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