Friday, 29 September 2017

After last week we're staying firmly planted in 1967, with this weekend being the 50th Anniversary of the launch of BBC Radio 1.
This was billed as the nation's answer and replacement to Pirate Radio in the UK. For after 3 years of playing pop music from ships anchored outside the 3 mile limit of British shores these pirates had been shut down by the spoil-sport government.
How successful this legitimate replacement proved is open to debate and opinion, but it was at the time heralded with a great deal of excitement and many a fanfare.
Tomorrow at precisely the exact hour of the original launch (06.55) BBC2 and DJ Tony Blackburn will do it all again and you can tune in your transistor radios - sorry DAB / Cable TV / smart phone / computer / Clock radio - or what ever device you currently listen to the radio on, and remember Wonderful Radio 1. (iplayer link here)
For more information and a rundown on the original programme see the excellent website Radio Rewind. Most people can recall that the first song played was The Move's 'Flowers in the Rain', and it was, right after the Radio 1 music jingle and the Tony Blackburn Show's theme by Johnny Dankworth called 'Beefeaters' - overlaid with Tony's wretched dog Arnold barking. Here's The Move:

Radio BBC2 is on FM between 88.1 - 90.2 MHz

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Do the DLR in a day

This was my working title as I set out. If I'd realised the frequency and how fast the trains were on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) plus how few stations it involved I'd have known it wasn't going to take all day. 
(The entire District line from Wimbledon to Upminster has 41 stations and this takes an hour and a half. The DLR has just 45 stations total and the world record for passing through all stops is just under 1hr 54mins). The various interchanges clearly add time to your journey, but the area and distances covered are relatively small. Even taking into account, as before, my own set of 'Tube Challenge' rules that you take time to look around places while you're there, this was not an all day affair. 
The interesting thing about the DLR, if you didn't know, is that there is no train driver ! The automated system opened in 1987 to serve the redevelopment of London's Docklands area.

I began at the Bank
No driver, so everyone wants to sit at the very front and enjoy a driver's eye view. I fail to achieve this at first, but do manage it for a great deal of the trip.
My initial destination is Lewisham passing through the futuristic landscape of Canary Wharf.
On my return journey I get off at 'Cutty Sark' and walk through the Greenwich foot tunnel, under the River Thames, (something I've never done before). The next diversion is to walk a section from Cross Harbour to South Quay to see a bend that enables you to see both sides of the train plus it's reflection in the glass building behind.
Back on board to Canary Wharf where I get a different train (and line) to Stratford. This station is also very modern but the spur to the grandly named Stratford International is disappointing, serving to take you to the larger train terminal but little else.
The line southwards running to Woolwich Arsenal goes past the old disused docks and London City airport while the tunnel under the Thames into the station is great from a driver's perspective. Lunch at Woolwich, which is a strange mix of cultures, old and new, shabby and smart.
Back up the same line I get off at King George V station and walk through a rather rundown area, rather quickly it should be said, and over the bridges by the airport to Gallion's Reach station. Planes landing more often than I'd expected against an increasingly darkening sky.
Gallion's Reach being on the Beckton branch meant I could go to the end of this line before returning along the north side of the airport past the Excel centre, the Dome and eventually back past the Canary skyscrapers and into London at Tower Gateway.
It had taken me 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete.
NB: Additional line extensions and therefore stations are planned in the near future. Another visit will be necessary soon.

A helpful more geographically accurate map of the DLR below (plus a few photos).
Coming into Heron Quays station - I'm driving !
Plane landing at London City airport.
Dramatic skies over London and the City airport.
Tunnel vision > Greenwich foot tunnel (left) & DLR train approaching Canary Wharf station.

Friday, 22 September 2017

40 years ago this coming week I was all set to visit America for the very first time. I'd wanted to go for ages and finally on the 28th September 1977 I flew into San Francisco. It was the start of something that probably has never really ended. The 'wanderlust' is alive and still kicking me all over the place.
Arriving in 1977 meant I was a good ten years to late for 'The Summer of Love'. I'd loved the music and the message and of course the art that accompanied this time and though a bit young to be part of the scene the memory of flower power and hippies going to San Francisco was very strong. From here on I was California Dreaming - it just took me 10 years to be woken up. 

There's a whole generation
With a new explanation*

The UK singles chart in 1967 told the tale: Starting in June 'Whiter Shade of Pale' at number one for 6 weeks, followed by 'All You Need is Love' and by August Scott McKenzie was singing 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)'. Followed by a session band called The Flowerpot Men with 'Let's Go To San Francisco'. Another song released in August yet didn't make the charts until November was the excellent 'San Franciscan Nights' by Eric Burdon & the Animals - let's go there!

Didn't you just know there'd be a VW painted with flowers in the video.

*Lyrics by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, sung by Scott McKenzie.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Foo Fighters Arms pub, Bethnal Green, E2 9LH

The 'Dundee Arms' pub becomes the temporary 'Foo Fighters Arms' as a promotion for new album. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

After almost 20 years in Space, around lunchtime today (GMT) the joint Nasa, and the European & Italian space agencies 'Cassini mission to Saturn' will finally end. 
On its final orbit Cassini will plunge into Saturn's atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor, becoming part of the planet itself.
Given all the components on board were pre 1997 and how technology has progress since - this mission and its success is almost beyond belief. See the brilliant NASA website to discover the full story of taking off in the wrong direction for Saturn, gravity assisted speed boosts (and still taking 7 years to get there), new moons and many more mind boggling facts, distances, speeds and photographs.

So what else could we possibly have today other than some space music: This is The Illusion with 'Illusion of Life'. We're "Star-Tracking Across the Universe".*

A Horizon documentary will review the mission and the final hours in a special programme to be broadcast on Monday 18 September at 21:00 BST on BBC Two. 

* A bit of silliness from The Firm >

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A Double Bill

This week's beer suggestions from ALDI:
Wild Bill's and Wizard – sounds like a custom-made double-bill especially for me !

Wild Bill's IPA – £1.19
Wizard Amber Beer – £1.29

Friday, 8 September 2017

Here's something I've been attempting that you may want to try. Pick your favourite band for each decade, starting in the sixties. (Artists: i.e. Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson - can be in a separate selection) this is groups only. (Which may make it easier)
My choices are:
1960s > The Kinks
1970s > Pink Floyd
1980s > Dire Straits
1990s > REM
2000s > The Killers
2010s > Mumford & Sons (though of course this decade hasn't quite ended yet).

One of the above favourites, yet to feature on the FRIDAY MUSIC SPOT is The Killers. So here they areLive on Letterman with a cast of thousands… (I could have picked any number of their songs but this is one of my favourite favourites). 'A Dustland Fairytale'

The Killers are about to release a new album on 22nd September called 'Wonderful Wonderful' !

Friday, 1 September 2017

Earlier this week I went to the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A in London. Ever since their music has been playing in my head, so no prizes for guessing where were going this week.
I know we have had Pink Floyd previously (click here>) - and a no repeat policy was my intention, but we ARE talking Pink Floyd here.
The exhibition, which has had its run extended to October 15th, was brilliant, as it guided you through the years, album by album, in the company of an audio track from personal headphones. Giant inflatables, flying pigs, aeroplanes and massive stage set walls along with instruments, costumes and all manor of memorabilia were on show. 
Selecting a track for this Friday I had so many contenders that in the end I decided to go along with the exhibition. This ended in a large room, surrounded on four sides by giant scenes and this song. From the 1979 LP 'The Wall' and performed live in Hyde Park in 2005 - 'Comfortably Numb'.

If you'd like to "Fritter and waste a few more moments in a dull day" - this is the way >
Released in 2006 the dvd of the 'Pulse' concert from 1994 at Earl's Court has the most incredible lightshow. I'm not going to name the tracks, it's a surprise, just enjoy the show: