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The WORST taxi driver ever!

If you want to get home without having to call the police, DON’T pick up a taxi from www.islingtoncars.co.uk.

2am, Monday night. We finish up an evening of teppanyaki dining, access all areas passes and tourbus shenanigans. Needing to get to the other side of London, one of the roadies hands over a number of a taxi firm. Within minutes, the driver arrives and we get in.
“How much will it be?”
“£30, is that ok?”
“Yeah, fine.”

The journey goes without hitch until, at Surrey Quayes, the driver pulls into a petrol station.
“I need you to give me money for my petrol.”
“Err, no. We’ll pay when we get home.”
“No, you must pay now.”

An argument ensues. The driver threatens to phone the police, but I swoop in first and beat him to it.
“Can you tell me where you are?” the policewoman says.
“I’m not sure,” I respond. “I’ll ask the driver.”
“I’m not telling you,” replies the driver, getting more and more red-faced.

Shouting continues until the police arrive.
“I don’t think they’ll pay me, so I want them to pay me now,” explains the driver.
“Why would we not pay you?!” I question. Since public transport back to our house still requires us a lengthy walk – uphill too! – we regularly take taxis. And always pay. And sometimes even tip.

The policewoman intervenes.
“Can everyone stop shouting? I’ve been called out here on an emergency, and quite frankly, this is anything but an emergency. This is a waste of my time!”
3am on a Tuesday morning is a busy time, right? Maybe if it was a single woman in the taxi she might have perceived the situation differently.
“Have you got the cash for the taxi?” she asks.
“No, the cash point doesn’t work. But there’s one at the end of our road before we get home and we planned to get it out there.”
“Right, well, how about you get back in the taxi and we’ll follow you to the next cash point. You can get the £30 out there, and then he can drive you home, and you can pay him when you get home.”

We all agree. We stop at the next cash point, and I withdraw the fee. The police, not even out of their car, shout across “Have you got the cash?”
“Yep.”
And off they go.
“Right, now you pay me,” the driver says.

Flabbergasted.

“No, the police said we’ll pay you when you take us home. We’re still at least five miles away.” The driver had clearly lied about needing petrol, since he didn’t refill at the station, and we didn’t want to be fleeced for thirty quid and stuck on Lewisham High Street at 3am.

“You have to pay me now.”

I’m about to go mad. I’ve got a flight to catch in a few hours. I could’ve been home already. Instead, he continues to argue – bizarrely – that we must pay him in the middle of the journey.

One final attempt, I think. “Listen, we’re not paying you before we get home. If you’re not going to drive us home, then we’ll just call another cab.”

He stands fast. “No, you pay me now, or I’ll phone the police again.”

“Fine.”

We walk to the train station – having paid our bitter driver not a penny – hoping a black cab might be sloping around, waiting for its final customers of the evening. No luck. We telephone our wonderful local taxi firm, who pick us up in no time. He drives us straight to our door, as we recount our experience, which dumbfound him as much as us.

“How much is that?” I ask, as we pull up outside.
“Eight quid please love.”
“Here’s ten.” I smile.

We’re finally home.…

How NOT to ask us to review your music

Here at RHV HQ, we receive many an email asking us to review an artist’s music. Often times we take a listen. Other times, we simply don’t have the time. Less do we have the inclination to review something we’ve never heard of that has landed in our inbox without introduction. Here’s an email thread of a recent conversation I had with one such happy-go-lucky type, who seemed entirely confused that his band was not my top priority.

Band: Just to clarify, the ep is out on 28th JUNE. NOT 28th MAY. Apologies, x

RHV: What is this referring to? Cheers.

Band: Hi, Was referring to THIS:

————————————

Hey, I hope you’re well. I’m just emailing to announce the release of our debut ep, ‘Sink’, which will be available at all good online retailers on 28.05.10.

I was hoping you’d be interested in running a review of the ep? Instead of sending out hard copies, we’ve created an EPK on our website where you can download or stream the whole ep for free and also get hold of a press release, bio and some pictures. Basically, everything you would usually receive in an envelope from an annoying PR company, we bring you in website form from us, the band.

Please download it here and let us know what you think! Would you be interested in running a review? If you need anymore info, don’t hesitate to contact me here or using the details on the EPK.

RHV: I don’t think I got this before.. I’ll take a listen in the morning! Cheers

Band: Did you get round to having a listen in the end? Would love to hear your thoughts…

RHV: Yeah, I quite like the first track. If you want to post out a CD to the address below, we can do a review.

Band: Thanks! Can you review it off the back of everything on the epk? I’m afraid we’re being green (Ed: or is that being cheap?!) and not making physical copies! There are photos, album art, press release and a bio on there!

RHV: We can add it to the list, but to be honest, the amount of stuff we get to review via email is so huge, and we deal with CDs first just because we physically have to deal with them!

Band: I’ve had this back from a couple of journos and I really don’t understand it. Everything you would receive in physical form in an envelope is available at the click of a button on our epk. You have exclusive access to that – why is it harder to access all of this at the click of a button than to receive it through your letterbox? This may sound confrontational but is genuinely not meant to. I could just really use some explanation!

RHV: We get 100s of emails every day asking to listen to a new band/artist, we’re simply inundated. Online submissions have sometimes caused a problem with security. Plus, our writers like to receive CDs in the post more than they like to receive emails. And not everyone listens to music at their computers. In fact, many of our writers prefer not to (comfort, bad speakers etc)

I suppose it really boils down to the fact that if a band can’t be bothered to make a CD, send out a press release and a decent print, then why should we bother reviewing it? We only really use online streamings when there’s a big security issue (i.e. for a major band) so that listenings can be tracked by PR companies.

At the end of the day, we’re under no obligation to review or comment on anything we don’t want to, so if submission guidelines aren’t followed, then it’s straight to the trash can, or in our case, onto an ever increasing list of ‘Things To Consider’ if we ever get round to it, which is unlikely since we get more and more through the postbox every day.

If it’s any consolation, we do exactly the same with writers who ask to write for our site. Unless they submit stuff exactly as we ask, we just don’t have time to explain, edit and lead them by the hand through everything. I hope that explains a bit from our perspective!

We never got a reply.…

Dear Royal Mail

Dear Royal Mail,

I have a few questions for you.

Why does our postman leave packages outside our front door, in full view of the street? The clue is in the job title: POSTman. You post things. How can you fail at that?

Why does our local sorting office not answer the phone? Are they too busy adding charges to our packages because the postman didn’t have anywhere to display our mail outside our houses?

Why does your head office – when finding out my phone call is in relation to a complaint – put me through to an automated service? Is your automated service any better than my answering machine? Would I be better off asking a Magic 8 Ball? Probably not, because I don’t have one, so I’d have to order one online, and it’d never get delivered.

Why does our postman not even knock on the door when a package does not fit through the letterbox? Does he have no hands? That’s the only conclusion I can draw, but even then, perhaps he should use his head, because he certainly doesn’t use it for anything else.

Why does our postman not ask us to sign for packages which senders have paid a large sum of money to have Signed For status? Can he not read the large red sticker which adorns the package? Maybe being a postman isn’t the right job for him.

Why do we receive mail for our neighbours? We live on a street where all the numbers are clearly displayed right next to the front doors. Does he not understand the difference between 55 and 53? We just put it back in the post box so that you can try again.

Are any of your postmen actually capable of reading, or understanding numbers? Are they able to post things? What exactly is the process you have to go through to become a postman? Do you just pick brainless, armless aliens who have a predilection for short trousers and the colour red, and happen to stumble near a post office one murkey night? Is some kind of secret scientific experiment going on where sheeps’ brains have been put into human bodies to see if the rest of us real humans notice any difference?

The worrying thing is, what happens when your postmen get a promotion? Is there any intermidiary training? If my postman can’t read the words ‘SIGN FOR’, are you qualified to answer this email? Or do I have to phone up your extortionate 0845 number, complete an assult course through your telephone system, and have a discussion with your automated services to find out the post codes of Adam Crozier’s and Moya Greene’s houses, so that I can personally ask a CEO why your staff are less than incapable? What happens when Mr Crozier has ordered a £50 Blu-ray boxset of season 7 of 24 from Amazon.com, and it’s just left out on the street for passers-by to take at their will? Who does he complain to? Himself? I bet Mr Crozier just picks up his own mail as he leaves the office, fully aware that his staff are merely there so that he is CEO rather than the sole postman of the entire UK. Incidentally, I’m sure Jack Bauer could have the entire Royal Mail system running far more effectively in 24 hours.

Since you have created your website and phone systems so that customers are unable to complain, I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to make sure I’m ready for when our postman arrives, and pose these questions to him myself. I’ll have a video camera ready.

I look forward to your answers – and to a time when everything is done digitally and the Royal Mail staff can go back to being single cell amoebae who don’t have to worry themselves with the taxing task of knocking on a door or putting an envelope through a door.

Warm regards,
RHV…

A foreigner’s guide to surviving London

“What?!” you say. “You belong here. You’ve lived here your entire life. How can you write from the perspective of a lost traveller on their first visit to the Big Smoke?”

True, I am. But I have the authority. I’ve had Couchsurfers surf my couch (well, I never!) since 2008. And in that time, I have come to realise that foreigners — French, American, Turkish, Martian — all make the same mistakes when travelling to London for the first time. I now keep a list of essential tips, ready to impart. If you’re planning your first trip to London, put down your guidebook. This is what you really need to know.

1. Remember that rule about getting out everything you think you want to pack, and then only taking half of it? When you’re coming to London, take just a quarter. When your backpack hits another angry businessman on the Tube, you’ll be wishing you hadn’t bothered bringing three pairs of trainers.

2. However, you will be wishing you had twice the money. Look at what any guidebook suggests you need, and double it. A daily travel card for unlimited use on all transport is around £7. Many museums are free, but other attractions have sky high price tags.

3. Don’t forget a lightweight raincoat and a jumper — even if it is July.

4. It’s likely that the first time you feel utterly bewildered in London, you will be entering the dreaded Underground. All those lines, colours and zones. Some go east, some go north. The Northern Line even travels south. And the circle line isn’t a line at all. It goes round. Even if you do work it out, it’s likely that the Tube you need isn’t running. So, don’t waste precious time trying to figure it out; just ask at the ticket desks. Use www.tfl.gov.uk to plan journeys in advance.

5. Pay-as-you-go Oyster cards always save you money. And don’t ever buy a ticket to travel one stop in zone 1. It’s far quicker to walk.

6. Don’t expect to see the Queen outside Buckingham Palace, watering the flowers or going for a jog with the corgis. I’ve been five times, and have never even seen her poke her head out a window.

7. When crossing the road, look the wrong way.

8. Don’t expect cyclists or rickshaws to be any less ruthless on the road than other vehicles. They’re the meanest. And they pay no attention to traffic lights.

9. Don’t feel obliged to take every newspaper and flyer that is thrust in your face.

10. The funny shaped building at St Mary Axe is called The Gherkin. Gherkins are also the green bit you have to pick out of McDonalds’ burgers.

11. Big Ben is just the bell. The building is St Stephen’s Tower.

12. We only tip after served meals in restaurants. Not in bars, not at petrol stations, not in shops.

13. Tea is a very popular drink, but most of us have never drunk it with the Queen.

14. Travelling on a London bus or black cab is nowhere near as fun as you imagine it will be.

15. Cockney rhyming slang. No one really uses it.…

Why do festivals turn normal civilians into numpties?

As the bulk of festival season draws to a close, we can all return to our daily humdrum of bland grey work suits and under eye bags, shuffling along the street to the bus stop. Yes, it’s time to put away your festival essentials for another year. And that doesn’t just mean putting the tent back up into the loft. If you are like anyone we’ve noticed at festivals this year, you’ll also be putting your mankini to the back of your underwear drawer, throwing out your fluorescent face paints, chucking away your glittery tutu, and packing up your banana outfit.

In the real world, you have no need for these items. You have no need for these items at a festival – yet still, as the years go by, it is becoming somewhat a necessity to dress up, act up and throw up to make it a true festival experience. A decade ago, festivals were populated by music lovers. You would expect to get rained on and muddy, and you wouldn’t bother packing a hairbrush. Now, festival goers fall neatly into one of four camps.

The Sensible Campers
These festival lovers bring a camping stove, camping furniture and have a tent large enough for a Romanian family. They carry crates of beer to their campsite to avoid paying arena prices, and undercook fatty bacon whilst perched on a stool to avoid the £6 burgers. It doesn’t matter if they get food poisoning; they’re armed with wet wipes, hand sanitiser and a four pack of Andrex.

The Excited Girls
They’re, like, sooooooooooooooooooo excited!!11!” They can’t help but scream things to their orange faced, slightly chubby friends, even when they’re standing right next to them. They bring hair straighteners, full masks of make up and umpteen changes of clothes, just in case they run into Brandon Flowers, and walk around with cardboard signs around their neck saying ‘Free Hugs!’. They paint each other in glitter and illuminous paint, and are usually found alone on the Saturday evening, inebriated, having lost all their friends and dropped their favourite bangle somewhere by the main stage. Can we help her find it? Absolutely not.

The Comedians
Yep, these lot think they’re real funny, but actually they crave attention. Whether dressed as a banana, a polar bear, a Rubix cube or a jar of mustard, it really doesn’t matter. They’ll get a few laughs from The Excited Girls, but dressing as a tree is neither comfortable, humorous, or functional. These lot also like to slide in mud and then run up and hug people. Uh huh, that’s real funny. You twat.

The Repressed Homosexuals
The mankini rose to popularity in 2006, and every festival since then has had its staunch mankini wearing crowd. It doesn’t matter than young children are running about. It doesn’t matter that the mankini wearer is fifteen stones and his shrivelled nut sack flaps about as he jumps up and down to Kasabian. The mankiners will still wear their mankinis. Other variations on this theme include the guys in ballgowns, tutus, leotards, and other girly clothes. Just about still in the closet, they use the festival as an excuse to exhibit themselves, and end up “drunkenly” having a fumble with their best mate from uni. It’s all a convenient cover up.

Roll on Winter…!…

Rant: £4.50 for a festival beer?!

Picture the scene: it is one we have all endured, gleefully bounding through the festival gates, fresh from a sleepless and uncomfortable stay in a suspicious-smelling tent. Your sneaky and ingenious methods of smuggling a litre of Stella in a water bottle have failed you but “No matter,” you think to yourself, “there is beer inside!” Yes, there is beer inside, but rather than the cheap and cheerful fare of a semi-chilled can for a reasonable price befitting of such an event you stare in abject horror at what you see before you. Yes, my friend. The large signs that proclaim: CARLING £4.50.

A chill goes through you (which has nothing to do with the presence of the beer, lukewarm and sticky as it is) as you gaze up at this ominous legend. There are two things very, very wrong with this. Firstly, £4.50 for a beer? Why, that’s more than you pay in the heaving pubs of Central London! Secondly, Carling!? Or if fate deals a further blow, Tuborg!? Possibly the worst lagers in the world and the festival organisers have the audacity to ask you to pay through the nose for it! What do you do? Go through an (unthinkable) beer-less day while your more foolhardy friends get fuzzily drunk on these warm monstrosities? Or do you suck it up and gloomily fork over your hard earned cash for a drinking experience that would usually be deemed less than adequate? A conundrum indeed.

Why do festivals feel the need to charge such ludicrous amounts for a beer? (And food – if you can call it that as well, for that matter?) After asking for an arbitrarily high wad of cash for the honour of camping in an uneven field the organisers refuse your attempts at supplying your own food and drink in the arena then whack up the price. Sure, you may say it is good business sense to fleece your customers, and again, sure, it’s slightly more difficult to supply these things in a field but not that difficult. And what about festivals on the continent?

The Groezrock festival, held in late April is a smallish punk and hardcore venture just outside of Antwerp, Belgium. In a relatively remote area the organisers manage to set up a pretty civilized environment which makes Reading and Leeds resemble a medieval battleground, complete with associated diseases. There were a variety of beers on offer, including some for those of adventurous tastes, and of course the obligatory Jager / energy drink combo. Every possible combination of food is available from the stalls that line the main festival area, from stir-fry to paninis and spaghetti. Vegetarian options were fantastic and most importantly, everything was satisfyingly low priced, with queues reduced massively through the use of food and drink tokens. These tokens could be bought in groups of five or ten for a meagre amount of Euros, then used each day. Additionally, picking up thirty used cups from the floor earned punters a free Jupiler beer, encouraging a more environmentally friendly attitude to things.

The thought put in to this festival made for an incredibly friendly atmosphere; no fights breaking out over a spilled pint or a dropped burger. Just a field full of satisfied customers feeling that rather than the aim of the festival being to suck their finances dry, perhaps the organisers’ aim was towards everyone having a good time?

We’re starting to see the use of drinks tokens and cup returns in some of the UK’s major festivals, but here’s hoping they soon follow suit in lowering their extortionate beer prices!…

NIRVANA: NEVERMIND 20TH ANNIVERSARY MULTI-FORMAT REISSUE – SEPTEMBER 26th

Released in September 1991, Nirvana’s sophomore album and major label debut elevated Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl from a critically acclaimed Aberdeen, Washington, cult band to generational spokesmen who’d unwittingly created a cultural shift and musical touchstone. Rising to No. 1 the world over by year’s end and ultimately selling over 30 million copies worldwide, Nevermind would come to be much more than one of the most successful and influential albums of its or any era. As the album that returned unaffected rock ’n’ roll integrity and passion to the top of the charts, Nevermind would prove a singular inspiration to fans and musicians alike over the last two decades–and will undoubtedly do so for generations to come.

Now on the occasion of Nevermind’s 20th anniversary, Universal Strategic Marketing presents a full spectrum re-release worthy of such a pivotal classic. With configurations ranging from a 4-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition to a standard digital/CD remaster of the original album, the 20th anniversary reissue of Nevermind makes the most of the occasion, unearthing literally dozens of previously unreleased recordings, obscure B-sides, alternate mixes, radio sessions, studio rarities and live recordings, including a 1991 Halloween concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in its entirety.

The limited, numbered Super Deluxe Edition more than lives up to its name as one of the most expansive and ambitious collections of its kind with only 10,000 copies available in North America, and another 30,000 for the rest of the world. The Super Deluxe features not only the original remastered album and accompanying studio and live B-sides, but the first full official release of the pre-Nevermind demos recorded at producer Butch Vig’s Smart Studios, as well as boombox recordings of subsequent rehearsals through which the listener can actually experience “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “On A Plain” and others that take shape before his or her very ears. The Super Deluxe also offers an altogether new perspective on the finished Nevermind album exclusive to this format in the form of the Devonshire Mixes: the album as produced and mixed by Vig as opposed to the commercially released final version produced by Vig and mixed by Andy Wallace. Rounding out the Super Deluxe are a pair of previously unreleased BBC recordings and the aforementioned 1991 Paramount show available for the first time and exclusive to this format on CD and DVD (which also features all four music videos from Nevermind), as well as a stunning 90-page bound book full of rarely and never- before-seen photos, documents and various other visual artifacts of the Nevermind era.

The Nirvana Nevermind 20th anniversary reissue is also available as a 2-CD Deluxe Edition featuring the remastered album and B-sides, the Smart Studio sessions, boombox rehearsals and BBC sessions, a 4-LP, 180-gram heavyweight vinyl edition featuring the same 40 tracks as the Deluxe Edition, a remastered CD of the original album, and digital versions of the standard and deluxe editions. The Paramount concert, transferred from 16mm film and multi-track audio, is the only known Nirvana concert shot to film and will be available in a 1080p high-definition picture and uncompressed 5.1 surround sound and stereo on stand-alone Blu-ray, along with DVD and digital long form video formats.

NIRVANA: NEVERMIND DELUXE TRACKLISTINGS.

NEVERMIND – SUPER DELUXE EDITION
4CDS + DVD
CD ONE
ORIGINAL ALBUM
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Polly
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On A Plain
12. Something In The Way

THE B-SIDES
13. Even In His Youth
14. Aneurysm
15. Curmudgeon
16. D-7 live at the BBC
17. Been A Son live
18. School live
19. Drain You live
20. Sliver live
21. Polly live

CD TWO

THE SMART STUDIO SESSIONS
1. In Bloom previously unreleased
2. Immodium (Breed) previously unreleased
3. Lithium previously unreleased
4. Polly previously unreleased mix
5. Pay To Play
6. Here She Comes Now
7. Dive previously unreleased
8. Sappy previously unreleased

THE BOOMBOX REHEARSALS
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit
10. Verse Chorus Verse previously unreleased
11. Territorial Pissings previously unreleased
12. Lounge Act previously unreleased
13. Come As You Are
14. Old Age previously unreleased
15. Something In The Way previously unreleased
16. On A Plain previously unreleased

BBC SESSIONS
17. Drain You previously unreleased
18. Something In The Way previously unreleased

CD THREE

THE DEVONSHIRE MIXES previously unreleased
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Territorial Pissings
7. Drain You
8. Lounge Act
9. Stay Away
10. On A Plain
11. Something In The Way

CD FOUR
LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE previously unreleased concert

1. Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
2. Aneurysm
3. Drain You
4. School
5. Floyd The Barber
6. Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. About A Girl
8. Polly
9. Breed
10. Sliver
11. Love Buzz
12. Lithium
13. Been A Son
14. Negative Creep
15. On A Plain
16. Blew
17. Rape Me
18. Territorial Pissings
19. Endless, Nameless

DVD

LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE previously unreleased concert

1. Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
2. Aneurysm
3. Drain You
4. School
5. Floyd The Barber
6. Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. About A Girl
8. Polly
9. Breed
10. Sliver
11. Love Buzz
12. Lithium
13. Been A Son
14. Negative Creep
15. On A Plain
16. Blew
17. Rape Me
18. Territorial Pissings
19. Endless, Nameless

EXTRAS
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit music video
2. Come As You Are music video
3. Lithium music video
4. In Bloom music video

Audio (DVD): DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Screen (DVD): Specs TBD
Region ALL
NTS

NEVERMIND – DELUXE EDITION
2CDS

CD ONE
ORIGINAL ALBUM
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Polly
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On A Plain
12. Something In The Way

THE B-SIDES
13. Even In His Youth
14. Aneurysm
15. Curmudgeon
16. D-7 live at the BBC
17. Been A Son live
18. School live
19. Drain You live
20. Sliver live
21. Polly live

CD TWO

THE SMART STUDIO SESSIONS
1. In Bloom previously unreleased
2. Immodium (Breed) previously unreleased
3. Lithium previously unreleased
4. Polly previously unreleased mix
5. Pay To Play
6. Here She Comes Now
7. Dive previously unreleased
8. Sappy previously unreleased

THE BOOMBOX REHEARSALS
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit
10. Verse Chorus Verse previously unreleased
11. Territorial Pissings previously unreleased
12. Lounge Act previously unreleased
13. Come As You Are
14. Old Age previously unreleased
15. Something In The Way previously unreleased
16. On A Plain previously unreleased

BBC SESSIONS
17. Drain You previously unreleased
18. Something In The Way previously unreleased

NEVERMIND – DELUXE EDITION
4LPS – 180g Virgin Vinyl

LP ONE
ORIGINAL ALBUM – SIDE A
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Polly

ORIGINAL ALBUM – SIDE B
1. Territorial Pissings
2. Drain You
3. Lounge Act
4. Stay Away
5. On A Plain
6. Something In The Way

LP TWO

B-SIDES – SIDE C
1. Even In His Youth
2. Aneurysm
3. Curmudgeon
4. D-7 live at the BBC
5. Been A Son live
6. School live

B-SIDES AND THE SMART STUDIO SESSIONS – SIDE D
1. Drain You live
2. Sliver live
3. Polly live
4. In Bloom previously unreleased
5. Immodium (Breed) previously unreleased
6. Lithium previously unreleased

LP THREE

THE SMART STUDIO SESSIONS – SIDE E
1. Polly previously unreleased mix
2. Pay To Play
3. Here She Comes Now
4. Dive previously unreleased
5. Sappy previously unreleased

THE BOOMBOX REHEARSALS – SIDE F
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Verse Chorus Verse previously unreleased
3. Territorial Pissings previously unreleased
4. Lounge Act previously unreleased

LP FOUR

THE BOOMBOX REHEARSALS – SIDE G
1. Come As You Are
2. Old Age previously unreleased
3. Something In The Way previously unreleased
4. On A Plain previously unreleased

BBC SESSIONS – SIDE H
1. Drain You previously unreleased
2. Something In The Way previously unreleased

NEVERMIND – REMASTERED
1CD

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
4. Breed
5. Lithium
6. Polly
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On A Plain
12. Something In The Way

LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT
DVD, BLU-RAY and LONGFORM VIDEO Configs

LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE previously unreleased concert

1. Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
2. Aneurysm
3. Drain You
4. School
5. Floyd The Barber
6. Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. About A Girl
8. Polly
9. Breed
10. Sliver
11. Love Buzz
12. Lithium
13. Been A Son
14. Negative Creep
15. On A Plain
16. Blew
17. Rape Me
18. Territorial Pissings
19. Endless, Nameless

Audio (DVD): DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Screen (DVD): Specs TBD
Region: ALL
NTSC
Audio (Blu-ray): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (96kHz / 24-bit), PCM Stereo (96kHz / 24-bit)
Screen (Blu-ray): Specs TBD
Region: ALL…

Mike Oldfield – Incantations

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Hands up who remembers the Exorcist?

Good work, John. Five team points.

Now who remembers the theme tune?

Goddamn incredible wasn’t it?

Mike Oldfield. Tubular Bells. Cracking theme track.

HISTORY LESSON OVER. EVERONE GETS A FIRST. NOW GO HOME WE’RE MOVING ON TO THE PRESENT.

Incantations is OldField’s latest (re)release (argh, the past catches up with us) and this happens to be the Deluxe edition. Fancy!

SOUNDS LIKE: This isn’t quite so obstinately pioneering as the original Tubular Bells – there’s an almost narrative structure to the tracks for a start, making it a sort of ‘ambient opera’ – but it still retains that experimental nature of his earlier works, though with a dropping of his distinctive guitar arrangements for a grander orchestral sound. There’s certainly nothing conventional or at least fashionable in what’s being reached for here, but it’s grasped with thorough and convincing skill.

Let’s take a close-up of an individual track to see what makes it stand out so well:

Incantations Part One.

Heavy use of pan, synth, string… it’s hard not to use hackneyed phrases like ‘sense of wonderment’ without sounding like a complete and utter tosser, but that’s really what gets evoked here. High reaching, emotionally uplifting, it’s the audio equivalent of a kid and their dog setting out one fine summers day on an epic journey of discovery. Leaves dappled by summer sun, a sense of unease about how far you’ve come and how much further there is to go… All that nostalgic halcyon bullshit. Except instead of getting tetanus on some abandoned wasteground, you’ll probably meet an elf who’ll teach you how to whisper to spiders. Anyway, you definitely won’t get chased off by a crazy homeless guy spitting obscenities and while waving a broken bottle of New Castle Brown… Anyway, six minutes in we switch to a shrill, marching song and nerds of a certain age won’t be able to see anything but pennants flapping as the dusk sets over Junon harbour. Then we get some female quire chanting in an impenetrable language; so that’s the ring of dancing spirits at the warrior king’s funeral checked off the list. This all sounds a bit over-blown and whimsical, but it’s created through a bare minimum of musical instruments, built up through layers of repetition, but without itself sounding repetitive. So there’s a lot of technical ability to admire even if your imagination brims with all the warmth and vitality of soggy, day-old Ginsters pastie.

The standout component though, which breaks the instrumental pace wonderfully is the use of Henry Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha at key points throughout the album. An extract of which you get below:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

(Hope you enjoyed that flashback to your GCSES)

Performed in a beautiful, diving and dipping witch-like chant, it’s a masterpiece in evoking the mystical/folklore tone of the piece. Love.

The album isn’t complexly flawless – the first 30 seconds of Guilty haven’t aged terribly well, though this is more of a bonus track. And The B-side selection is considerable weaker – they wouldn’t be B-sides otherwise – and essentially serve as cut-shots of the superior A-sides. Pretty nitpicky to hit from these angles though.

Despite its age, this is a cracking rerelease and certainly worth picking up if you’re a fan of concept albums, Lord of the Rings, or modern opera (more synth, less large singing lady). An organic, fable-like, seventy minute ride into one man’s personal fantasy kingdom. It’s pretty much a Ghibli soundtrack waiting to happen. If he and Miyazaki ever did a team up… World ending.…

Quiet Rebellion – Still Talking Scribble

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Shaun T. Hunter turned his back on a potentially lucrative deal back in the 1990s and forged his own path. A few albums later we have’ Quiet Rebellion’ and what becomes immediately clear is that this artist is seriously into his music. There are wonderful musical arrangements on the album and it should be pointed out that Shaun is also credited with having played every instrument on it. That in itself is an amazing achievement and gives you an insight into the man’s talent. The problem here is that the offering doesn’t experiment enough and doesn’t diversify enough. It stays within its own safety zone leaving us with an album full of songs that all sound very similar.
The album gets off to a cracking start with ‘Soon’ a slice of heightened musical contentment, before Shaun digs deeper imprinting his lyrical message on the next track and the title name of the album, ‘Still Talking Scribble’. The ambitious ‘Solo’ delivers a touching acapella and ‘A Little Help From You Goes a Long Way’ is a stand out track that begins beautifully with a simmering guitar riff which continues throughout the track. There is definitely an abundance of touching melodies at play here and to summarise, this album is a relaxed and enjoyable enough journey.…