Finding something by accident is always more fun, and such was the case yesterday when I stumbled upon Channel 4’s new series of Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year.  It is a programme that just epitomises the eccentricities of the British, and how some go to extremes in pursuit of their dreams – and more power to their elbow for doing so!

shed

The first episode featured two categories of this year’s competition – Summerhouses and ‘Not a Shed’.   The first of these was won by The Mushroom House an amazing creation built by a father for his 12-year-old daughter, and the second by an Underground Bunker accessed through a quite normal garden shed and created by an inventor, who demonstrated one of his inventions – a rock guitar that blasts flames from the headstock!   However my favourite was the guy who had recreated a replica 1950s ABC Cinema in his back garden, complete with authentic foyer, auditorium with 34 seats, and original projector!

Which brings me to the reason for my enforced near-absence from blogging for a couple years – a potential new neighbour who was proposing building a shed at the bottom of my garden.  However, this was no ordinary neighbour, nor a shed that would provide the type of joy generated by the entrants of the above competition.   Our nextdoor neighbour’s shed would have been part of the category that encompasses industrial units, because ‘shed’ is the term developers casually use for a massive distribution centre. Continue Reading

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017, after a second virtually blogless year, will be to return to writing for pleasure more regularly – a task made easier by the departure from our lives of the near two-year long threat of someone building a shed at the bottom of our garden – something that will be covered soon, but not in this blog.  Because the subject matter here is far more pleasurable – my Album of the Year 2016

Album of the Year 2016

For my new readers’ benefit, I have selected a personal album of the year ever since I started buying vinyl in the early 1960s.  During the ‘seventies, this singular personal choice evolved into a small-circulation printed newsletter for selected friends, through a wider-circulation email in the ‘nineties that contained a top ten, to ultimately, in 2008, this annual blog on my musical experiences throughout the year.   For the featured albums, the criteria I use are that I must have a copy in my collection that has been purchased during the year, the album’s UK release date has to be in the year being reviewed, and the list can contain no compilations or live albums.  Other than that, it’s pretty-much open-house. Continue Reading

Back in the summer of 1969, the world’s eyes were on just one thing – the moon – awaiting the first man to set foot there.  Around the same time, a haunting song began receiving airplay telling the story of a stranded astronaut, Major Tom, sitting in a tin can far above the moon and musing that planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.

This was my introduction to David Bowie and, along with thousands of others, I bought the original mono single – although not enough of us did so to get it too far into the top twenty.  It eventually made the grade six years later and topped the charts as it really should have done at the time of its genesis.

By the time that belated first number one arrived in 1975, both alter-egos of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had been and gone, and Bowie had moved on to what he termed his plastic soul phase.  So while a somewhat different promo video of Space Oddity, showing Ziggy singing it, was rounding-off that week’s Top of the Pops, Bowie was on tour with a brass section squeezing-out sax-riffs for Young Americans and Fame.   But that was Bowie, always years ahead of his time. Continue Reading

I couldn’t believe it when I realised that this will be my first blog in a year! Such has been the saga of the past fifteen months, which started with a broken arm, then continued via various other distractions, some good, others not so. However, throughout the year the musical backdrop has been consistently good, so here is my review of the year, finishing with my choice of Album of the Year 2015.

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The first two purchases for the year were carry-overs from 2014 which, had I been aware of them at the time, would have definitely both made it to the shortlist. Someday World by Brian Eno and Karl Hyde is a wander through an electronic landscape that is much more accessible than some of the former Roxy Music keyboard man’s ambient efforts over the last ten to fifteen years. Maybe it was the collaboration with Underworld’s frontman that created this infectious album which almost demands to be played regularly. Continue Reading

A belated Happy New Year everyone, and my apologies for not blogging for more than six months – a long and convoluted story for another time. So to more important business, the slightly-belated selection of album of the year 2014 – and what a difficult choice this has been.

aoty14

There are good years and better years, but 2014 was exceptional, witnessed by the CD racks groaning under the weight of more annual purchases than I have made in many a long year and all, bar a few minor exceptions, valid contenders for the shortlist. Added to that were some omissions from 2013 that would have been considered had they come on the radar earlier. Continue Reading