Sunday, December 28, 2003

Went back to work yesterday, for my first Saturday working in the shop. It was actually a pretty quiet day, many of the cafés and bars on Park Street were closed, so it felt more like a Sunday really. I like the fact that at this time of year it’s really easy to lose track of the days of the week. Today I’m off see Bristol City play Bournemouth, obviously that would normally take place on a Saturday, so tomorrow I’m going to be convinced that it’s Sunday, better make sure that we both remember to go to work. Then when we get back on track they go and throw New Years day at us, so another day off and more mental confusion for a simple chap like me.

We had a gently social time over the past few days. Met up with a few friends on Xmas eve to celebrate my birthday, had to have a late change of venue for our lunch gathering as the place which we had booked, was not actually serving food, although they had neglected to tell us this. Still we managed to find a nice café on Gloucester Road and had a fine time. After the meal a few of us popped into the excellent Repsycho, where we marvelled at their wonderful collection of the kitsch and the classic from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s.

Xmas day itself went really well, we finally staggered home and just about managed to stay awake to watch Belleville Rendez-Vous. Boxing day was a very lazy, apart from a brief trip to the dustbin, I did not leave the house all day, which was fine.

Whilst I was working Orynthia introduced her cousin Caroline (who is spending Xmas with us) to delights of the ladies lunch club at the Boston Tea Party.

Last night we popped round to see Rick and Louise and as is often the way. I found myself engaged in a long an interesting conversation about music with one of Rick’s friends. Having started off talking about “cool” bands like Joy Division, we eventually found ourselves admitting to our Prog Rock and Heavy Metal past’s. We all have our skeletons in the cupboard.

Record of the Xmas period for me, is the latest brilliant album by Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Really inventive, funny and funky, it’s a great record.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Despite a couple of weather forecasts raising our hopes, no sign of any snow here yet. We are long overdue a decent snowfall, maybe this will be the year!

Looking past Xmas, we booked a couple of things to look forward to. Firstly in early January we have got tickets to see the marvellous Ladybug Transistor in London, as luck would have it we were due to visit London on the 9th January for “Tea at The Ritz” (a Xmas gift from last year), amazingly the only gig that the band are playing in the UK on this trip across The Atlantic was scheduled for the night before, so we will be heading up to London on the Thursday in order to catch the gig as well, also pleased as we managed to book reasonably priced (for London) accommodation very close to the venue.

Then on Friday 23rd January the equally splendid Camera Obscura are playing at The Cube, the perfect place to see the band which gave us one of the best albums of 2003. I had a chat with the guy who has been arranging it for The Cube, and it sounds as though he has been having great fun trying to decipher those lovely Scottish accents over the phone, during the negotiations.

We’ve also booked the flights for the Bilbao trip for the first week in February, so all in all we’ve got a lot to look forward to in the New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Although there is no such thing as an Imperial Music Xmas bash, the previous couple of evenings and seen me out and about on a pair of festive nights out.

On Wednesday Orynthia’s company treated us to an evening in the gothic splendour of Ashton Court Mansion. For the first since leaving BT at the end of October, I had to slip into a suit, luckily I just about remembered how put a tie on as well. Orynthia looked radiant and it was quite nice to be in a dressy environment for once.

Last night, the Monday night football gang finally managed to arrange a social night out, mainly thanks to the organisational skills of Scott. Nine of us met for a curry, before somehow blagging our way into the South West Press Xmas party, for a late drink. Scott is about to join the Australia exodus, which many of our musical friends seem to be experiencing this winter. Geoff is already down under for an extended visit, John and Jane head out for a month early in January. Scott and his musical partner Andy Smith have the exotic sounding prospect of a New Years Eve gig in Sydney, then New Years day in Perth, before squeezing in one more show in Singapore on the way back of their whistle-stop trip.

Had a pretty frustrating day today, sitting in the traffic of a grid locked city. I think that everyone must have finished work at lunchtime and decided to drive home. What should have been a pretty quick trip to take my sister to the supermarket, turned into a bit of a marathon.

Tonight it’s going to be the last ever Four Corner’s at The Croft, hopefully a decent crowd will make it a night to remember.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

You can see some pictures here of our recent trip to Tate Modern in London.

Had a surprise visit tonight from one of our Spanish friends. Jose is from Bilbao but has been living in Bristol on and off for the past few years. We got in touch with him recently because we are hoping to go to Bilbao next February, so we thought we would pick his brains about accommodation.

He popped in this evening to say that he is going back to Spain for Xmas in a couple of days time, then after a brief return for New Year in Bristol, he is off to start a new job working for UNESCO in Jamaica! I think that he is still a bit stunned by it all, but what a great adventure, one thing does worry him though. I told him that the Jamaicans love cricket. For all his adaptability and willingness to adapt to local ways and customs, the majestic game of cricket has always remained a cause of bemused confusion for the poor chap. He once asked me “How can a game last 5 days, and still end in a draw?” Maybe with that warm Caribbean sun shining on his back the game will make more sense to him then it does in chilly old England.

We’ve had some interesting customers in the shop recently. Of course all our customers are interesting, but some stand out more that others. Last week Julian Cope spent sometime in shop before picking up a copy of the Gonga album. Today we spent a while with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, he was in a very chatty and jolly mood, buying lots of goodies. In fact it was a pretty busy day, the Xmas rush really seemed to begin, now all we need it some snow. One of my old BT colleagues also came into the shop. The old team that I used to work with is being merged with another team and it sounds as though things are generally pretty miserable there at the moment, which is a real shame for the people concerned. I am so pleased that I left when I did.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Woke up this morning to a cold and foggy day. In fact the car would not start, I guess due to a combination of cold and damp, luckily this meant that I had a lovely walk through the misty splendour of Redland Green Park. Lots of birds were skipping around, I thought at first that were having their breakfast, but when you think about the ridiculous time which birds get up at, then I guess it would have been more like lunchtime for them.

Once in the shop, it was one of those days when lots of friends happened to visit. In quick succession 5 people came in, the funniest was Darren, more of an acquaintance really. He is one of the many people that we know through Steve Vowels. We watched a few football games together over a glass of wine. He was about to leave empty handed when he spotted me by the door, I was checking the stock situation, so I had pen and paper in hand. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him so his was unaware of my change of career. He assumed that I had an enormous Xmas list that I was working my through and was shocked to find that I was working in “the best record shop in Bristol”. He kept on congratulating me on my new job and laughing out loud. After a few minutes of banter I’m pleased to say that he left with a couple of purchases.

Tomorrow night we shall be heading into town to try and complete (or at least break the back of) our Xmas shopping. We actually don’t have to buy too much this year, helped by the fact that my sister and her 3 boys have decided that they no longer recognise Xmas or indeed birthdays!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Our final gig in the crazy sequence was great. Belle & Sebastian played lots of different songs from the London show and went down a storm on their first visit to this part of the country. Support act Franz Ferdinand impressed me a lot with their spikey, angular performance. Have to say that they reminded me a lot of Josef K, Scottish favourites from a previous century.

I can’t really believe that we are so close to Christmas. Usually by this time of year, I’ve been out for lots of work related Xmas meals. I have to say that I quite like the fact that nothing like that goes on in the shop. The thing is that we all have a great time in work anyway, so we don’t need to conjure up an excuse for some joviality. I also love the fact that we can give such joy to people. It’s great to sell someone a record which they have been trying to track down for ages, and it’s also good fun helping out all those confused mums who come into the shop with scribbled notes indicating the music that their loved ones would like Santa to bring them. I guess in a way we are just Santa’s little helpers!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

At last the chart the world has been waiting for is here! The definitive guide to the best records of 2003, can be found at the Imperial Music website. Did your favourite make the list?

So it’s been a really busy few days. The Strokes gig in Cardiff on Wednesday night was fantastic! They played for about an hour, and were gone without any encore, which was exactly right. Incredibly tight, they ripped through their set as though their lives depended on it. Next time they come to the UK, I fear they will be playing the big stadiums, so this may be the last chance I get to see them – if so, what a brilliant way to remember them.

Thursday night we were off to The Thekla to see 3 of my new colleagues in action, When RLF and friends supported The Bug. Brilliantly inventive electronica, with live brass section and scratching, they were great. As for the videos – Genius.

On Friday we took advantage of our journey to London for the Belle & Sebastian gig, and nipped along to Tate Modern to see the stunning installation by Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project. His enormous fake sun shining through the artificial haze creates an amazingly restful and calming atmosphere. It was very strange to see people lying on the concrete floor, to all intents – sunbathing, although no heat is generated. One couple even appeared to be having a picnic! Well worth taking a look at, and it’s free!!

After a brilliant Indian meal, we set off for The Astoria, when we arrived the “Indie Karaoke” was already underway. The efforts of the highly entertaining Johnny Seven made for an amusing competition, which was eventually won by a chap pretending to be The Mamas & Papas (no mean feat). When the gig proper started Stuart Murdoch appeared to be somewhat out of sorts, which resulted in a slightly tense atmosphere on stage. The mood lifted after Mick Cooke’s splendid impersonation of Herb Alpert and soon the band were back on top form and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Songs were liberally taken from all periods of the bands career and Orynthia cheerfully pronounced it, the B&S gig she had seen. Let’s see if they can top that on Sunday evening in Bath.

Today I went to City play Barnsley in the F.A. Cup, although we battered them for most of the game, we were unable to get the goal we needed, so the match ended 0-0. At least we are in the draw for the 3rd round, when all those millionaires from The Premiership join the competion, maybe we will get our chance to take on one of the big clubs at Ashton Gate, assuming that we get past Barnsley in the replay.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The following note is taken from the Belle & Sebastian website and refers to the the London gig which we are going to on Friday evening. Could be quite amusing.

"To all of you who made it to the Glasgow Album Launch, you'll know the drill already, however, for those who don't, the support band for the Friday London show is going to be an interactive karaoke affair! The Johnny 7 are going to be the band, and we need you, yes, that's YOU!, to choose from the delectable list of indie karaoke delights below and volunteer to get up on the stage at The Astoria and belt it at - simple really!
If you have tickets and wanna display your vocal prowess, please email and tell us which song you want to sing. We'll then contact you to discuss meet-up points for the night.
**Please note, if you haven't already got tickets, we're not going to be able to get you into the show, despite how much you want to participate, sorry.**
Stuart Murdoch will be your compere for the slot and there'll probably be a prize for the best performance too, so even if you're not up for singing, please come along early to join in the fun and shout loud for your fave.
Here's the list of Johnny 7 approved songs!
Aztec Camera : oblivious
Baccara : yes sir i can boogie
Burt Bacharach : this guy's in love with you
Shirley Bassey : goldfinger (or almost any bond theme)
Belle & Sebastian : legal man
Blondie : heart of glass / denis / sunday girl
David Bowie : the man who sold the world
Camper Van Beethoven : take the skinheads bowling
The Carpenters : close to you
Edwyn Collins : a girl like you
Doris Day : perhaps, perhaps, perhaps
The Delgados : pull the wires from the wall
Dexy's Midnight Runners : geno
The Doors : light my fire
Franz Ferdinand : darts of pleasure
Astrud Gilberto : the girl from ipanema
Mary Hopkins : those were the days
Jacky : white horses
Daniel Johnston : speeding motorcycle
Tom Jones : it's not unusual
Kylie : can't get you out of my head
Julie London : cry me a river
Madness : baggy trousers
Maaonna : like a virgin / material girl / borderline
The Mamas and The Papas : california dreaming
Kelly Marie : feels like i'm in love
The Monkees : last train to clarksville / i'm a believer
The Pastels : nothing to be done
Freda Payne : band of gold
Elvis Presley : bossa nova baby
Pulp : babies
Santana : black magic woman
Dusty Springfield : the look of love
The Strokes : last nite
Supergrass : alright
The Supremes : baby love
Teenage Fanclub : the concept
Thin Lizzy : the boys are back in town
Tight Fit : the lion sleeps tonight
Velvet Underground : sunday morning
Bobby Vinton : blue velvet
Dionne Warwick : say a little prayer
White Stripes : you're pretty good looking
Andy Williams : music to watch girls by
And almost anything vintage by Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones etc."

Lots of dashing around at the moment, hence the lack of entries here. Just time to say buy the new mini album, The Stereo and God by Joy Zipper, it’s a fine thing.