Wednesday, 28 August 2013



This was a World Cup qualifying game, with Japan on the brink of being the first country to qualify for next year's World Cup Finals in Brazil.

At a packed Saitama Stadium, the atmosphere was sizzling with anticipation when Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and co. took the field. After a goalless first half, Japan were dealt a shock when Australia took the lead with a rather fortunate cross-cum-shot that beat goalkeeper Kawashima at the far post.

With the clock ticking down, though, Japan were awarded a penalty which Honda converted coolly, sparking huge celebrations in the stadium and across the country.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Paul Weller EP review on January 2013

Paul Weller


Island Records

Released: Monday 17 December 2012

In the days when vinyl ruled the turntables, the phrase 'limited edition' was associated with coloured plastic and/or picture sleeves - and very popular they were with vinyl junkies and record companies alike. So the 7in vinyl version of Dragonfly, Paul Weller's new EP, which has hit the shops with a limited batch of just 3,000 numbered copies, will certainly have got the pulses racing among record collectors. With a sleeve designed by Sir Peter Blake, the man responsible for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Weller's 1995 album, Stanley Road, it's already a highly sought-after piece of plastic, though a downloadable version is still available for anyone unimaginative enough to merely want to listen to the music!

The title track will be familiar to anyone who has heard Weller's most recent album, Sonik Kicks, and a fine track it is too, with lots of swirling sounds from Blur's Graham Coxon. 'Devotion' also appeared on the deluxe version of said album, while the rest of the tracks were all recorded during the Sonik Kicks sessions.

The four new tracks are well worth hearing, with 'We Got a Lot' this writer's pick of a very impressive crop, though Weller once again manages to get the listener racking their brain over which tune is lurking there under the surface. This is not a criticism but, unlike 'It's Too Bad' off All Mod Cons, released by The Jam (Weller's first band, for the benefit of younger readers) in 1978, where an early Beatles riff is unmistakeable, I can't quite place this influence.

'Lay Down Your Weary Burden' and 'Portal to the Past' are more than mere fillers, while 'The Piper' sees Weller tipping his hat to his Motown-listening roots, yet adding a contemporary vibe to a track which ends this extremely satisfying EP on a strong note.

Thursday, 10 January 2013






Some photographs of London taken during 2010 and set to music by "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" by Stereolab. The title was taken from a 1971 film by Shuji Terayama with the Japanese name トマトケチャップ皇帝, (Tomato Kechappu Kōtei). It was originally a 27-minute short, though a 75-minute director's cut was released in 1996. The story revolves around a young boy who is the emperor of a country where children have overthrown the adults.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Review of Scott Walker's Bish Bosch album for December 2012


Released: 3rd December 2012 

Scott Walker - Bish Bosch      

For many of the post-punk generation, the name Scott Walker is connected with Julian Cope. In 1981, the former lead singer of Teardrop Explodes and, latterly, antiquarian and all-round eccentric compiled Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker, a collection of tracks from Walker's early solo albums released in the late 1960s.

As an interpreter of Jacques Brel songs, such as 'If You Go Away', 'Jackie', and this writer's favourite, Mathilde', Walker truly lived up to Cope's hyperbole and, for many listeners, his rich, baritone voice was, and remains, the gold standard for orchestral balladeers. Yet, in 1984, just as interest in Walker's more melodic tunes had been stimulated, he released Climate of Hunter, a challenging collection which hinted at his crooning past, but most definitely did not exploit any curiosity that may have been generated by Fire Escape in the Sky.

It would be 11 years before Tilt, Walker's next record, hit the shelves, marking the first in a trilogy of experimental, avant garde albums which sees its completion with the release of Bish Bosch. Coming out only six years after The Drift (the middle part of the trilogy), Bish Bosch emerges with seemingly undue haste for an artist who has tended to leave 10-year gaps between albums over the past 40 years or so.

In Walker's case, 'artist' is a very apt description. Bish Bosch, as the second half of its title might suggest, is best approached in the same way you might view a work of art. On first listen, it appears disjointed, jagged and almost unlistenable. Yet, like studying a painting or other work of art, one needs to look at it again and again to fully understand the meaning and, with repeated plays, the listener is drawn into its complex web, revealing layers that demonstrate the songwriting skills of a '60s survivor who can still produce thought-provoking material which is ultimately very rewarding.

At more than an hour, the listener needs to invest a good deal of time before reaping any long-lasting benefit, yet each track appears to have been hand-crafted by Walker with co-producer Peter Walsh, using a myriad of strange sounds, including the noise of swords being sharpened and barking dogs at various times in the recording. At certain points during the centrepiece track, 'SDSS 14+13B (Zercon, a Flagpole Sitter)', the 21-minute epic which forms the centrepiece of the album, it is silence that creates the tension for the listener and draws one into the work.

The album closes with a track subtitled 'An Xmas Song' but, this being Walker, the sleigh bells which end the number are dark and slightly disturbing. One thing's for sure, you won't be hearing BBC Radio 2 playing this festive tune on Christmas Day this year or, indeed, in any future years.
Walker is quoted on the 4AD website as saying: "I've always thought since the late '70s, 'This is my last record'… I guess I just pull the trigger each time." With the 'big 7-0' looming for Walker in January, if these words prove to be prophetic, Bish Bosch will be an enduring legacy but, somehow, I don't think we've seen the last of him just yet.