Friday, 17 October 2014

T-Shirt Friday 25 !

The Car Boot Caper! (Part One)
Well... we have made it! T-Shirt Friday is now officially 25! Like a fine mature cheese T-Shirt Friday has grown from a sparkle of a cotton field in some ones eye to a fully blown piece of well crafted apparel! Happy 25th Anniversary T-Shirt Friday!
...and now on with the show and so to the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum! which was: What is the title of the famously unreleased 1977 Neil Young album? it's quite a tricky one, as 'ole Neil has actually made a follow up to the unreleased album and just as only Neil can do confused us all in the process but the 'unreleased' album is 'Chrome Dreams' it's said that a lot of the tracks on the album have been dispersed onto many of Neil's other albums, there are however apparently some very different takes of the songs we have all come to know and if you own 1993's 'Unplugged' and ever wondered where the beautiful track 'Stringman' came from... it would have been on 'Chrome Dreams'. If you got it right, how will you celebrate? You could shake things up a bit by taking some polish to any chrome surface that you might have around the house... some Cif in the bathroom, some AGA to your fireplace surrounds, a bit of Vitasol on the chrome exhaust tail pipe maybe...

Today's T-Shirt was originally from here:
Sadly they don't seem to do the tee anymore but they do have some other great shirts!

If you were to think of a place you would like to visit for a day trip it you might consider Windsor, Greenwich perhaps or maybe Canterbury... what about Taplow? Taplow?? yes near Maidenhead??? Well... Taplow near Maidenhead boasts (if nothing else) one of the biggest car boot sales you can go to, in fact it's termed as "Giant" and "Berks & Bucks Busiest & Best Late Start Car Boot"and while we were still living in Paddington we had a gateway to the stars that sparkle from the rear view mirrors of the unloading cars. One fairly sunny (for a bank holiday) Monday Miss Russell was away and so I took the opportunity to go and see what was going on in Taplow, originally I'd been looking to go to a record fair but this seemed like a very exciting prospect and there is always a possibility of picking up some vinyl at a car boot, expectations were high and Taplow met them ten fold and then some... it really is a 'huge' car boot with loads to offer, a lot of bargain vinyl, a lot of everything and some great food stalls for lunch too... Miss Russell called me on the mobile while I was munching through a German bratwurst hot dog that was the size of an OTRAG rocket!
It was a wonderful day, some great boot bargains, very friendly people, it's a family originated event for all! The train station is right near by, it's a direct line from Paddington with no changes, a low price train ticket and about a 45min journey, the ease of travel was mind blowing or so I thought...

The following week while recounting all of this to my Mum and Dad on the phone, we thought it would be great to all go for a family day out. Unfortunately though there were no more bank holidays coming up... Do not fear Taplow is on Sundays too!!! Similar to the stars doing it - the front car tyres had aligned with the back ones! Sadly Miss Russell was again away (is there a pattern emerging)  but Mum and Dad could make it... the plan was for them to stay at the flat on the Saturday night for ease of travel in the morning, when they arrived they presented me with the below t-shirt, it seemed very apt and has since been dubbed 'the car boot t-shirt'. After watching 'The Black Hole' on DVD and a fish finger sandwich or two we all headed off for a good nights sleep and awoke at the designated time of 7am ready for the car boot ahead, you could feel the atmosphere crackle with anticipation, I popped on 'the car boot tee' and off we all went to Paddington station to re-tread the steps to Taplow... something was amiss... this time there was no direct train to the station, after a little confusion though it emerged that we could go to Slough and take a bus that would drop us at the foot of the boot... The train started to slowly leave the station and we were off! Mum and Dad both looking forward to some bargains... The trip to Slough was very quick and we made our way off the train and towards where we thought the pick up point for the bus was... we checked with a station member and were pointed in a slightly different direction but eventually found the stop... we waited... actually not all that long... a bus pulled up... we almost all got on but something made my Mum just check with the driver "Ah sorry... this bus doesn't stop at Taplow" "the next bus might go there". It came across like he wasn't too sure, we had our doubts, we exited the bus, as we did a jolly station member was passing: "In all the years that I've worked here and that is over 25 years mind, I've never heard of a bus going from this station or any on this line, to Taplow on a Sunday" We all had the same group thought... Hmmm...

To Be Continued...

There we are, stranded in Slough! ...and so until next week for the final finale of 'The Car Boot Caper!' but before that here is the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum! Which this week is: Which famous musician and pioneer of electronic music went to school in Slough?

More info on Taplow Car Boot Sale? -
More info Pioneers of electronic music?
The OTRAG rocket
Disney's The Black Hole
How to make a great fishfinger sandwich

Friday, 19 September 2014

T-Shirt Friday 23 !

A  'Chopping Wood' T-Shirt!
T-Shirt Friday 23? - I hear you ask, but should it not be 25??? Ah well, here is the missing '23'! Admittedly it has been some time since there has been any T-Shirt Friday's at all!!! do not fear though, there is and will be a 25, however just for this week lets go back into the 'Bad Fog of Loneiness' and bring forth out of the mists this one from the vaults... 
So... where did we leave off... the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum question! which was... 'Cosmic Egg' was an album released by which Australian heavy rock band? The answer is of course Wolfmother! - did you get it right? How will you celebrate? maybe with your pet Wolf if you have one, or cook your Mother dinner, however you decide to celebrate just enjoy! it's Friday and the weekend is coming after all!

A version of today's T-Shirt can be found here:
Mine is an older version and sadly doesn't seem to be available any more.

"I was chopping down a palm tree, When a friend dropped by to ask, If I would feel less lonely, If he helped me swing the axe. I said: No, it's not a case of being lonely, We have here, I've been working on this palm tree, For eighty seven years, I said: No, it's not a case of being lonely, We have here, I've been working on this palm tree, For eighty seven years, He said: Go get lost! And walked towards his Cadillac. I chopped down the palm tree. And it landed on his back."

'Last Trip To Tulsa' - Neil Young

It's seems fitting almost to publish T-Shirt 23 after having already released T-Shirt 24, it's the kind of thing that Neil might do, in fact has done... like recording albums and then releasing them many years later or never releasing them at all!

'Harvest' on it's release in 1972, divided both critics and fans opinions. Even Neil himself in retrospect has described the album (almost in the same breath) as an 'MOR aberration' and his 'finest album'. Neil's most famous quote from that time, is about the song 'Heart Of Gold' "This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I met more interesting people there."
Often though 'Harvest' along with it's counterpart 'After The Gold Rush' released in 1970 are an accessible way in to a sometimes uncompromising but brilliant artist.
This is true of myself, 'After The Gold Rush' was my first Neil Young album and from that moment I was captivated. Once you have heard Neil and you 'get him' you kind of sign up to be a life long fan, no matter what direction he wants to take you in. However I was a bit confused... 'Heart Of Gold' was the first Neil song I'd actually ever heard, (they often played it at Walthamstow Dog Stadium along with some other classics between races) but it didn't appear to be on the cassette tape of 'After The Gold Rush' that I'd just purchased. Some more digging was necessary. Of course at that point I was very naive and had no idea of how vast Neil's output and back catalogue was. Somehow though the cassette tape that greeted me when I walked back into Woolworth's at Chingford Mount was 'Harvest'.

Collecting and cutting up wood have both become a bit of a fixture for my Dad. Fairly recently Mum and Dad decided to get a wood burning stove, it really suits the house, keeps it lovely and warm and just looks so romantic. Wood in abundance is of course needed though, Dad has collected a number of tools in readiness to prepare old planks, logs and trees! And it's at a tree where this story really begins... Whilst staying back at my Parents, my Dad mentioned that he might need some help with a tree that had fallen down at my Brother-In-Laws, Mum's house, it needed to be cleared and there was an opening over the upcoming weekend to do it, I did very little in preparation, until that is last minute on the Saturday morning, we needed to be up early... Still half asleep I dressed myself adding two odd socks to the mix and went downstairs, we had some breakfast and off we went. The tree was already down although there was a stump which Dad had to cut through and we began to clear the chunks of wood, noticeably there was a lot of amber sap seeping out through the bark which I'd managed to get down my t-shirt, I looked down not even taking into account before that moment the tee that I had on... it's OK I thought it's only that old worn out 'Neil Young - Harvest' t-shirt and then it hit me... that old Neil Young shirt... the lyrics of the last verse of 'Last Trip To Tulsa' filled my head. Without even knowing it or putting any thought into it I was wearing the right t-shirt for the chop! 
Incidentally 'Chopping Wood' is a way of playing drums where the drummer plays a strong rim-click on the two and four beats, often Ken Buttrey's drum's on 'Heart Of Gold' are described as 'cutting wood' or 'chopping wood drum style'.

Walking back from Woolworth's I slid the tape in my Walkman and popped on the headphones, from that day onwards I played 'Harvest' over and over again, to the point of when you could no longer read any of the text on the body of the cassette tape and the tape itself was getting worn, the case was scratched and you could barley see the beautiful typography of Tom Wilkes cover design through it. I loved that album so much and I wanted to tell the world, I found a way to do so... the below t-shirt! 
In somewhat a similar way to the tape, I wore it so much, (taking it everywhere with me) that the print soon became very faint, it gained holes and started wearing very thin, soon it became apparent that with much sadness it would have to be retired and put away into the bottom of the chest of drawers at my Mum and Dad's... and there it stayed, only to be rediscovered quite by mistake many years later while in a dozy rush to get down the stairs to have breakfast and help my Dad chop up a tree!

Well here we are again it's time for the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum! which this week is: What is the title of the famously unreleased 1977 Neil Young album?

More info on Neil Young? -

Neil's website -
Wood Burning Stoves -
Tom Wilkes (One of my favourite all time album cover designers / art directors) -

Detail of the 'Harvest' T-Shirt with tree sap!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Year Of The Horse - Side 2

Horseshoe man!
Sometime ago now my great friend and colleague James McAllister, Creative Director at Karmablue Studios: very kindly asked if I would be interested in working on a re-design of the DVD artwork for the Neil Young and Crazy Horse release 'Year Of The Horse' I jumped at the chance! 

You may remember that we came up with some original visuals but then the whole project took a slightly different direction...

Here is how the final artwork turned out...

Music Listened to while working on Neil Young, Year Of The Horse final DVD artwork:
Volume 4 by Black Sabbath
Little Feat by Little Feat
Decade by Neil Young
Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush
Volcanic Rock by Buffalo
Fragile by Yes

DVD full front / back cover sleeve and inside

DVD Booklet front and back
DVD onbody

Friday, 4 July 2014

Argus - An Appreciation

Wishbone Ash, 'Argus' - An appreciation

In a dusty red all in one moulded plastic cassette tape box, a bit like the ones that people kept in there cars back in the 1980's to house music, before things thinned down again... sits a rather battered and scratched up plastic tape case... not as it happens, an all clear one with the slimline look and shiny curved edges we may all remember from the 90's, but rather a boxed square shape with the black acrylic back and clear front, giving away somewhat the origin of it's age...  Through the clouded, finger marked scuffed surface of the tape case you can still just about make out the Hipgnosis cover artwork for the album hiding inside, it's Wishbone Ash's 1972 magnum opus 'Argus'...

The red dusty tape box with all it's contents is a part of a time travelling experience back at my parents and my old bedroom. We are currently in-between moving from our flat to a house and so my Mum and Dad have been invaded by us, we will be with them for the next two months. Going back to where you grow up opens up so many great memories. It's funny because we are a close family and so visit all the time, but now living back with Mum and Dad has allowed for a bit more exploration of old books, comics and albums...

There are so many classic albums that came out in the seventies, in fact when I first considered writing this piece it seemed more obvious to cover something on 'Wish You Were Here', 'Rust Never Sleeps' or perhaps 'Volume 4' but Argus is a bit more forgotten about and it really is time that it made it back into every music fans record collection. As with everything, albums come and go, some stick around for a while starting at the top of your CD pile and slowly moving down giving way to all new replacements. Others just get stored away, forgotten, waiting to be re-discovered building up layers of dust over the years. Some however keep coming back, like a kind of musical magnet and that is the relationship that I share with Argus, it's timeless in it's sound and song cycle, it's also extremely profound and ultimately gives back (as all truly great music does) so many special memories.

Wishbone Ash began life as a collection of other bands (including 'Tanglewood') and line-ups but by 1970 they released their first album known simply as 'Wishbone Ash' - the album employed the twin guitar interplay of Andy Powell and Ted Turner. Although there was nothing new as such with the idea of two lead guitars in a band (It had been done  before namely The Allman Brothers and to some extent with Neil Young and Stephen Stills) Wishbone Ash brought in a sound and dynamic that was very much their own. Taking in blues, hard rock, prog rock, classical music, acoustic and folk. They built upon their reputation as a superb live act as well and even included a live track, the 10:23 minute long 'Where Were You Tomorrow' on their second album - 1971's 'Pilgrimage' which focuses more on the folk, acoustic and jazz side of the Wishbone sound. They also began bringing in vocal flourishes, especially a four part harmony on the track 'Valediction' a hint perhaps at a CSN&Y influence and also towards what they would go on do next with their third offering...

Argus opens with the epic 9:46 minute long track 'Time Was'. It's a statement of intent, sending a message out that you're about to hear something very special. With it's gentle acoustic beginning, the melody flows around your head in it's mellowness, then out of nowhere just when you think that you have a soft gentle ride on your hands a great up tempo riff comes in and with a time change similar to something that Stephen Stills or David Crosby might have done on 'Déjà Vu', it's off we go! It's a progressive track taking you on a trip, a lament on life itself, both uplifting and thought provoking at the same time! The follow on track 'Sometime World' has a similar feel with a beautiful haunting guitar refrain. Then it's bang! - a fantastic production technique, where your emotions are left behind with the gentleness and at the same time fired forwards on a rocking rollercoaster into the next track... 'Blowin' Free' which is probably the closest track to being radio friendly but it fits perfectly into the space it's given on the album - Wishbone Ash take influences from Southern Rock here, but blend them with their own sound and in doing so create something quite unique, it's a piece that gets your head and your heart thumping! in the same way that Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird' does. To go through each song on the album might just be giving to much away, in fact there may already be too many spoilers within this text, the album as with all albums needs to be heard and the individual to be surprised by what they hear... If you will allow me though, I would like to talk about one final track, It's my favourite song on the album, if a favourite on this album is possible... all the songs are so good and they should be viewed as a whole, but 'The King Will Come' is mind blowing! - with a riff that lasts way after the track has finished. It's impossible to get it out of your brain, the song builds from a kind of marching drum to some truly exceptional intertwined guitar work, it's biblical in it's size, stature and lyric! - it will rock you to your very core! & then there is Leaf and Stream with it's pastoral... Oh so sorry I'll stop there, it's just so difficult to not keep talking about it all...

Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in London, Argus was produced by Derek Lawrence noted for working on Deep Purple's first three albums, he also produced Wishbone Ash's first three as well, Martin Birch was the sound engineer, he later worked with Black Sabbath and other hard rock bands... Depending on if you own a vinyl or the CD version of the album you may notice discrepancies with the artwork. The vinyl gatefold contains an extra part of the story in that it depicts the warrior on the cover (as with the CD) but also that the warrior is looking upon a flying saucer in the sky... as to why the UFO is missing on the CD artwork, it still remains a mystery...
Hipgnosis created and designed the alluring artwork, the photograph was taken by Barry Wentzell (famous for taking many classic shots of rock musicians) it's a very powerful composition of the warrior overlooking the Gorge of Verdun with a sunburst outlining him. Argus isn't depicted as such, or at least the Greek 100 eyed sentinel isn't, which is where Steve Upton took his inspiration for the name of the album from but Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell as with many of their classic album covers capture the mood of the music perfectly. I've spent hours just looking at the cover wondering where the warrior might be travelling to, who might be coming to meet him, is he surprised by the UFO.... so many questions, the artwork tells a story just like the music does...

There are many debates as to what Argus is... is it progressive music, is it art rock, is it classic rock... these discussions will go on for ever and ever and really the truth is that it doesn't matter, Argus is an album that has and will continue to stand the test of time... Wishbone Ash made 'Wishbone Ash' music in much the same way that Pink Floyd made 'Pink Floyd' music and to try and label it to any one genre seems pointless and takes away the mystery and the art of what those great bands did. Argus is an album for both the heart and the mind as if someone were baring their very soul and reflecting on all the happiness and sadness that life brings, all emotions are weaved within the timeless music that Wishbone Ash created... 

So if you have an old dusty cassette box or a shelf full off vinyl that you can't remember the last time you looked at, double check to make sure you don't have a copy of 'Argus' tucked away in a dark corner. It really is an album that needs the cobwebs blown off it and it's epic twin guitar, medieval, pastoral, mythological, romantic, fantasy, hard rockin', thoughtful, ethereal, Arthurian, heroic, escapism to be let out and rediscovered!

Wishbone Ash - Argus line-up

Andy Powell - Guitar Vocals

Ted Turner - Guitar Vocals
Martin Turner - Vocals, Bass
Steve Upton - Drums
Jon Tout - Organ on 'Throw Down The Sword'

Wishbone Ash:

Wishbone Ash went on to create many other great albums and also to influence bands such as Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy...

Friday, 28 March 2014

T-Shirt Friday 24 !

Cosmic Crofton Park!
It's been an extremely busy time at the T-Shirt Friday HQ, Reasons for this can be read below, hence why there hasn't been any T-Shirt Friday posts for so long... However... that's all set to change as T-Shirt Friday is back to rock your world in more ways then one! Still in it's traditional spot of appearing on Fridays, Still ready to engage you in wondrous tales of the apparel type! So let us not dither any further and jump straight into it, big toe first... the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum, how did you get on with it? it was so long ago can you remember what the last question was? If your either a Little Feat fan or a Rolling Stones fan you may well have known the answer straight away, if not it may have taken some digging... the famous guitar player that appears on 'A Apolitical Blues' is.... wait for it ..... Mick Taylor! did you get it right? If so how will you celebrate? Perhaps you could crack open a bottle of Taylor's port!

Today's T-Shirt can be found directly here:

Have you ever found your self lost in the cosmic splendour of music? - perhaps curling back into your own mind, while listening to rainbow streamed guitar sounds - blowing your brain out with riffs of ultimate power that seem to be echoing from psychedelic signals originating from somewhere out there in infinite space and beyond the very stars themselves, causing time itself to fold inwards into black holes that give birth to symphonic universes beyond our human understanding? - If so, perhaps you have also been to Crofton Park?

However you also may have never actually heard of Crofton Park... much like us. Let me take you right back to the beginning, perhaps not as far back as when Dinosaurs stomped around the earth, leaving footprints the size of Brockley. But to around January 2014. After the big event of last year and Miss Russell becoming Mrs Gibbons, we thought perhaps it might be time to start looking for a slightly less multi-staircase'd place to live, So we began our search for a new home. We began by taking my Mum and Dad for a trip to West Norwood and it soon became obvious that we were probably going to be heading in that South Easterly direction. Although perhaps we would branch out from the Norwood area and look around at other neighbouring ones, we spent some very memorable weekends in both Forest Hill and Brockely but there was one Saturday when we set foot in a place that sits in-between the both of them...

Crofton Park, is technically still really in Brockley but way back a little bit after those stomping Dinosaurs, when Steam Trains chugged there way across the landscape in 1892... Another station was opened in Brockley. There were already two 'Brockley Station' and 'Brockley Lane Station' so the third one was given a name that would differentiate it. 'Crofton Park Sation' was a part of the railway line informally known as 'The Catford Loop' the Station eventually gave it's name to the small pocket area that surrounded it. If you go to Crofton Park these days you'll discover both the Rivoli Ballroom and The Brockley Jack, a pub of which Mrs Gibbons and myself would recommend whole heartily, having spent quite a bit of time there (once when we just walked in to use there loo but thought better of it and walked straight back out again!) - It has a Whales shoulder blade bone hanging above the fireplace... The Rivoli Ballroom was originally The Crofton Park Picture Palace. Both places as with Crofton Park in general, are steeped in history...

Our trainers crossed from what was Brockley pavement, to Crofton Park pavement and along with the trainers I was wearing my usual attire, old jeans, un-matching socks and slightly battered old black fleece jacket, there was one thing different though... I was trying out a brand new t-shirt that Mrs Gibbons had very kindly bought me for Christmas! It was in fact the first time of wearing it, 'The Cosmic Dimension Music' T-Shirt was a fantastic Christmas surprise and it felt really good to be wearing it, as we made the momentous crossing into the unknown. As you enter into Crofton Park, one of the first sights is the cemetery and it was at this very point where the incident happened....

I will set the scene. As we walked along past the aforementioned Brockley and Ladywell cemetery we could see in our midst two gentlemen pushing along there children in pushchairs. We came to the corner of the road, that runs around the park area, our paths crossed with them and just at that very moment one of the chaps very gently whispered and to quote "Ace T-Shirt" without even stopping or acknowledging his appreciation any further. They both just continued on there way, as if nothing had happened. Both Mrs Gibbons and myself looked at the back of there heads as they gradually disappeared down the road we had just walked up. We then looked at each other, had the gentlemen really just said that? It was all a bit of a blur, we came to the conclusion that it really had happened, after all we had both heard it (all-be-it, only just) but we had and more over we felt better for it! Warm in the knowledge that a prospective place where we were considering living accepts the 'cosmic' in all of us!

...The funniest part about it all is that although we did see a couple of really beautiful houses in cosmic Crofton Park and liked the place very much, we ended up not putting an offer on any house in the area at all but in another dimension altogether...

Well here we are again, it's time for the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum question, which this week is... 'Cosmic Egg' was an album released by which Australian heavy rock band? and now all that is left for me to do is bid you a very cosmic weekend! until next time....

More info on the Cosmic? -
More info on Brockley, Forest Hill &  Norwood -
More info on Crofton Park -