Sunday Whatever

Well, what a strange week that was.  Usually, popping down to London is the most stressful for this vaguely-panicked scribe, yet it turned out to be the most relaxed out of four jaunts around the country.  They were all well worth it though, it’s nice for me to occasionally realise that I’m not quite as antisocial as I tend to think I am, and running into friends old and new has left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling that will no doubt be completely obliterated tomorrow morning when I go back to work.

Not entirely sure how many new readers I’ve gained this week (hi, fellow Grauniadistas!  Hope you find something worth hanging around for), I’ll probably lose them all again as this week I plan to put my feet up a bit, save for trying to think of something to do for this coming Tuesday as 6dft will be a whole two years old.  And, as the web-hosting types have already renewed my subscription, I have at least another year left in me.  Or at least paid for so I’d better make the most of it…


Best of 2011, No. 10: Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!

After that stunning array of punctuation in the subject header, I suppose that I’d better get on with it.  My top ten of this year was fairly easy to decide upon in terms of pretty much who was going to be in it, the tricky bit was (and still is – it’s a bit fluid) working out in which order to place them.  I’d better get a shift on then with this before I change my mind again…

At number 10 then, we have this gem from a band who are increasingly becoming Global Ambassadors For The North, with an album that has found itself just as much at home in stadia as it is in the pub.  Quite handily, this ties in nicely with their own rather splendid brand of ale – a marketing coup that is setting a trend of its own, as Motörhead’s Red Wine and the awfully-punned “MmmHops” beer from Hanson, which shocked me to the core and made me feel suddenly ancient when I realised that most of that band are probably now old enough to drink it.


Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys! Beer

The planets are certainly in alignment today, and thankfully not in a scary, Dark Crystal sort of a way.  Not only is it Drinky Thursday, but Elbow are soon to appear on the telly performing a free show in the wonderful Manchester Cathedral, and I took delivery of eight bottles of this specially-brewed, limited edition ale named after their most recent and lovely album and made not too far from here at the Robinsons Unicorn Brewery in Stockport.

There have been things a bit like this in the past I’m sure as industry promotional gifts, but those tended to be of existing products with new labels and logos on them as opposed to this endeavour, a commercially-available pint (well, half-litre) that has been designed in conjunction with the band themselves “after a series of tastings”.  Quite.


Now.  I have seen people talking about Real Ale, and I also have helpful “Taster Notes”  on the back of the bottles to ensure that I’m not just bluffing my way through this.  Proper Terminology may well be employed throughout, but I make no guarantee of accuracy, seriousness or sobriety.  It’s drinkies, after all.



Mid-Afternoon Compilation Saturday: Manchester Music For Kosovo – Ten

The best way that we can appreciate the present is to look back towards the past occasionally.  Not just so that we can comfort ourselves that things are somehow better, but also to understand that just because something is no longer at the forefront of our attention, it doesn’t mean that human issues end with the cessation of political and/or military involvement.

It’s been a long time since Kosovo was mentioned in the news, or indeed anywhere.  The World’s youngest country is Europe’s poorest.  The violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia has left its citizens without an economic infrastructure, and this will take a long time to turn around.  That the citizens of Kosovo actually have a country however is a fragility worth having and building upon for the future.  It’s wonderful to see a fledgeling nation find its feet, but it needs help in order to do so.


Manchester Aid for Kosovo (MAK) was formed one evening in a pub, and within a fortnight, 300 tons of aid was on its way from Manchester, and Manchester Peace Park now stands in the town Podujevo (the scene of  horrendous ethnic cleansing during the conflict) as a permanent reminder of the tragic events of the past and a public monument to the collective hope of the nation.  Ten years ago, a charity compilation called Cohesion, featuring many of Manchester’s established and upcoming talent, united in the aim of raising aid for the then-UN Protectorate.  A decade on, and Elbow and Doves return to contribute to a new album fittingly entitled Ten to celebrate the work done so far and to remind us that much still needs to be done.


Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!

One of the books I’m reading at the moment is Stuart Maconie’s excellent Pies and Prejudice, where the radio DJ and ex-NME journalist (starting the rumour that Bob Holness played the sax on Baker Street in the process) travels the North of England’s many environs, shattering some stereotypes and confirming others about the curious geography and even more curious residents of all those bits outside London that make up the whole of The North, but who also retain a fierce, almost tribal, retention of very local cultures, dialects, attitudes and music that makes a mockery of lumping us all together as “that little village outside London”, especially when we start delving into bitter rivalries of natures sporting, trade and political that can go back centuries.


I am from the North of England, and I love the place.  As do Elbow, who have been eulogising this part of the world, and Greater Manchester in particular, for some time.


Elbow’s career has been long and persistent, secure in the knowledge that they were always making great music, and their time finally came when they won the Mercury Music Prize in 2008 for the wonderful album The Seldom Seen Kid and everyone finally took notice.


Sunday Whatever

Right.  If I get this done within the next *checks* 34 minutes, I’ll only be one day late.

Got hold of a whole bunch of stuff this past week that’s either brand new or brand new to me with more to come in the next couple of days, so have had a lot to soak up.  Will endeavour to get at least two more updates and a possible reminiscence in during the next few days before the World Cup and other doings start and completely bugger up any semblance of getting anything done.


Sunday Whatever: Reclamation Special!

On his Heavy Concept Album, Neil relates the tale of Our Tune – a parody of a Radio 1 Mainstay of the 1980s where DJ Simon Bates would read letters from listeners detailing various emotional trainwrecks and other awful happenings, before acceding to their request to play something generally trite because it reminds them of whatever.  And so, as Neil puts it, “they ended up hating this piece of music as well”.

As a concept, it’s never going to end well.  But it’s probable that we’ve all been there at some point or other:  A song that was once dear to one’s heart is now almost unlistenable because of a memory gone bittersweet at best, sour at worst.  It’s not the song’s fault though, so dig out those old tunes and enjoy them again for what they are, rather than what they once represented…  Or – most likely – I’m going to run through a few of my own and finish this entry in a very bad mood indeed.